There was a massive earth quake in the the region of L'Aquila which is a city next to Rome. Today a 6.5 quake spread destruction and terror around the whole area. Tremors earlier could be felt, and many came out to see what was happening, as they watched many of their own buildings and structure crumbling apart in front of them.
There are estimates of up to ninety people killed, as well as hundreds missing. Rescue workers and the army are making an effort to get all civilians to safe places. Many reporters called the procession of people in the sleep wear and blankets refugees, these people have been gathered and taken care of at the red cross stations set up all around the suburbs of L'Aquila.
Italy sits on two of tectonic plates that cause earth quakes, these are not unheard of, but usually occur in the southern part of Italy.
What are tectonic plates, you ask...
Tectonic plates are large masses of land that basically float on the lava, or core of the earth. They are in constant motion and follow a set pattern in movement. As plates move they some time release massive amounts of energy causing an earth quake. These quakes and plate movement are key reasons for volcanoes, mountains, and basically the structure of the planet's landscape.
A fault line, or plane is mainly where an earth quake can be expected to occur. These are the unsupported parts of earth on the plate, they can sometime break apart or sink in. In Italy many buildings were destroyed because of this.
The plates were once all together hundreds of thousands of years ago. These plates have been in motion since then. We have come to understand much about geology and how the earth works, but there is much we do not understand.