The 4.9 magnitude quake occurred at 6.08pm on Sunday between the cities of Benevento and Caserta, according to the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV). It was preceded by another quake measuring 2.7.
The quake’s epicentre was located near the towns of Castello del Matese, Gioia Sannitica, Piedimonte Matese, San Gregorio Matese, San Potito Sannitico and Cusano Mutri, the INGV said. The earthquake hit at a depth of between 10.4km and 9.6km.
The quake was also reportedly felt as far as central Naples and even in Rome, while Italian daily Corriere della Sera said tremors were also felt in Puglia.
Three tremors measuring 2.9, 2.3 and 3.1 were later recorded on Monday morning at 12.34am, 2.28am and 3.18am.
According to reports from news agency ANSA, panicked residents and tourists alike filed out onto the streets, many fearing a repeat of the tragic Irpinia earthquake which hit the regions of Campania and Basilicata in 1980, killing 2,914, injuring more than 10,000 and leaving 300,000 homeless.
Damage was reported to some churches in the province of Caserta including in Piedimonte Matese, where some cornices became detached. No serious damage was reported.
In the town of Maddaloni, also in Caserta, a panicked man reportedly jumped from a first floor window. He did not suffer serious injuries.
People attending evening mass on Sunday evening reportedly left church in panic in Sannio and Irpinia. In Molise there were reports of tourists leaving their hotels.
Telephone lines were overburdened for several hours with communication at times impossible in Benevento and Naples.