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USGS(ROME) — A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, with reports of fatalities and significant damage surfacing quickly in its aftermath.

Officials say the towns of Accumoli and Amatrice appear to be the hardest hit by the quake, which struck at 3:36 a.m. local time as most residents slept inside their homes.

At least 38 people have been killed, according to Italy’s Civil Protection Department.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi announced plans Wednesday to travel to the affected area.

Renzi thanked rescue workers who continued searching through the rubble and vowed a sustained, national effort to find any survivors and assist the wounded and homeless.

“No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone,” he said.

Tremors were felt as far away as Rome, more than 100 miles away from the quake’s epicenter.

The mayor of Amatrice told ANSA that a large portion of that town had been destroyed and that residents had been buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

The mayor of the nearby town of Accumoli reported one family of four found under debris with no apparent signs of life, as well as one other possible victim.

Fabio Curcio, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department, called it a “serious earthquake” that resulted in “wounded” and “serious damage,” ANSA reported.

The Civil Protection Department labeled the earthquake as “severe,” as reports of power and communications outages and ruptured gas lines added to the difficulties facing emergency responders.

This tweet from Italy’s fire and rescue service shows an aerial view of the devastation in one of the hardest-hit areas.

#terremoto reatino, #soccorso #vigilidelfuoco in atto, sezioni operative in arrivo tutte le regioni pic.twitter.com/vEc7EV8zIs

— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) August 24, 2016

The quake was felt across four regions of central Italy: Lazio, Umbria, Abruzzo and Marche.

The U.S. State Dept. urged Americans in the area to contact their loved ones.

US citizens in #Italy if you’re safe after the #earthquake please contact family/friends, check in on social media

— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) August 24, 2016

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed the quake’s location and its magnitude.

USGS

The central Apennine region, a mountainous area of central Italy, has seen several significant temblors in the past, according to the USGS.

In April 2009, 6.3 magnitude quake near the town of L’Aquila killed at least 295, injured over 1,000 and left at least 55,000 homeless.

In Sept. 1997, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the area killed 11 and injured over 100, destroying approximately 80,000 homes in the Marche and Umbria regions.

On Jan. 13, 1915, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Avezzano killed approximately 32,000 people.

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One lucky seal narrowly avoided feeding time for a pod of orca whales by jumping aboard a boat off the coast of British Columbia.

Kirk Fraser was out whale watching with family when he captured an incredible moment on camera, a seal scrambling onto his boat to escape killer whales.

The seal jumped onto the boat and squeezed its way between the engines to avoid the jaws on the killer whales.

Watch incredible footage as seal escapes hunting orcas by hopping onto a boat https://t.co/AoRmlLlKwh pic.twitter.com/Xo4t9Z8MbT

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) August 23, 2016

Fraser says they saw the seal’s head pop up above the water and initially thought it was injured. “All of a sudden it is between the engines with whales all around under the boat. Then the seal jumped on the boat. It was madness,” he said.

The seal fell off two times, but scrambled back on. Fraser said he was concerned the whales would nudge the boat.

The orcas circled the boat for about 30 minutes, leaving everyone on board soaked from the spray coming off of their blowholes. Once they gave up and left the area, the seal hopped off back in the water, but kept “hanging around the boat just in case,” Fraser said.

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Courtesy Canadian Coast Guard(SARNIA, Ontario) — Canadian first responders had to provide “a significant amount of on-water emergency assistance” this weekend, when officials said about 1,500 U.S. citizens were blown into their northern neighbor’s territory.

The participants were taking part in the annual Port Huron Michigan Float Down on Saturday, which saw them — many reportedly intoxicated — accidentally float into foreign waters.

“A burst of rain and high winds prompted hundreds of event participants to seek shelter ashore in Sarnia, where they were assisted by Canada Border Services Agency, Sarnia Police and the Canadian Red Cross,” Carol Launderville, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Coast Guard, told ABC News in an emailed statement.

She said that several vessels were involved in fishing the American floaters out of the river.

Speaking to CBC News, Peter Garapick of the Canadian Coast Guard, said: “There were people in places you’d never think something would float, but there were Americans everywhere.”

“They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol,” he added.

Under police escort, the U.S. citizens were bused back to the south side of the border, local police said on their Twitter feed, repeatedly referring to the individuals as “floaters.”

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Chuck Fishman/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis replaced his weekly catechesis in St. Peter’s Square with a heartfelt address on the unfolding tragedy after a severe earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday.

“Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists, and learning there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened,” the Pope said.

Thanking “all volunteers and rescue personnel assisting these people,” the Pope asked the people gathered in Rome to join him in a prayer for the “brokenhearted,” who suffered loss in the wake of the 6.2 magnitude quake that struck at 3:36 a.m. as most residents slept inside their homes.

“With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion,” the Pope said.

“I cannot fail but to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those in those zones afflicted,” he added, offering “condolences to those who have lost love ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid.”

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USGS(ROME) — A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, with reports of fatalities and significant damage surfacing quickly in its aftermath.

Officials say the towns of Accumoli and Amatrice appear to be the hardest hit by the quake, which struck at 3:36 a.m. local time as most residents slept inside their homes.

At least 21 people have been killed, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency.

Tremors were felt as far away as Rome, more than 100 miles away from the quake’s epicenter.

The mayor of Amatrice told ANSA that a large portion of that town had been destroyed and that residents had been buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

The mayor of the nearby town of Accumoli reported one family of four found under debris with no apparent signs of life, as well as one other possible victim.

Fabio Curcio, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department, called it a “serious earthquake” that resulted in “wounded” and “serious damage,” ANSA reported.

The Civil Protection Department labeled the earthquake as “severe,” as reports of power and communications outages and ruptured gas lines added to the difficulties facing emergency responders.

This tweet from Italy’s fire and rescue service shows an aerial view of the devastation in one of the hardest-hit areas.

#terremoto reatino, #soccorso #vigilidelfuoco in atto, sezioni operative in arrivo tutte le regioni pic.twitter.com/vEc7EV8zIs

— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) August 24, 2016

The quake was felt across four regions of central Italy: Lazio, Umbria, Abruzzo and Marche.

The U.S. State Dept. urged Americans in the area to contact their loved ones.

US citizens in #Italy if you’re safe after the #earthquake please contact family/friends, check in on social media

— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) August 24, 2016

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed the quake’s location and its magnitude.

USGS

The central Apennine region, a mountainous area of central Italy, has seen several significant temblors in the past, according to the USGS.

In April 2009, 6.3 magnitude quake near the town of L’Aquila killed at least 295, injured over 1,000 and left at least 55,000 homeless.

In September 1997, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the area killed 11 and injured over 100, destroying approximately 80,000 homes in the Marche and Umbria regions.

On January 13, 1915, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Avezzano killed approximately 32,000 people.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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USGS(ROME) — A magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit central Italy near Perugia early Wednesday local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and significant damage has already been reported.

The mayor of Amatrice told Italy’s Ansa news agency that a large portion of that town had been destroyed and that residents had been buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

The mayor of the nearby town of Accumoli reported one family of four found under debris with no apparent signs of life, as well as one other possible victim.

Tremors were reportedly felt in Rome, and La Repubblica newspaper said some buildings shook for 20 seconds, according to BBC.

Fabio Curcio, head of Italy’s department of civil protection, said called it a “serious earthquake” that resulted in “wounded” and “serious damage,” Ansa reported.

The U.S. State Dept. urged Americans in the area to contact their loved ones.

US citizens in #Italy if you’re safe after the #earthquake please contact family/friends, check in on social media

— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) August 24, 2016

The central Apennine region, a mountainous area of central Italy, has seen several significant temblors in the past, according to the USGS.

In April 2009, 6.3 magnitude quake near the town of L’Aquila killed at least 295, injured over 1,000 and left at least 55,000 homeless.

In September 1997, 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the area killed 11 and injured over 100, destroying approximately 80,000 homes in the Marche and Umbria regions.

On January 13, 1915, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Avezzano killed approximately 32,000 people.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — One of the world’s most recognizable clothing brands is in the limelight, not for a new fashion line but because of a lawsuit alleging it has engaged in deceptive pricing tactics.

Zara has denied claims made in a class action lawsuit filed last week that alleges the Spain-based clothing giant has been deceiving customers by listing prices in euros, then cheating them at the register with artificial exchange rates.

The suit, brought by Los Angeles resident Devin Rose, makes two distinct allegations against the company.

First, the suit alleges that Zara is confusing customers by tagging their clothing with prices quoted in euros.

“Since the euro is a larger unit of currency than the American dollar, these euro prices lead shoppers in the United States to believe that Zara’s products are less expensive than they actually are,” the suit, which was filed by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, claims. “Customers are lured in by the brand’s seemingly low prices, and it is only upon bringing the items they intend to purchase to the register that these customers discover their true costs.”

It goes on to claim that the final sale price (which in the U.S. is, of course, in dollars), is “well in excess of the true converted amount if the euro price on the tag were properly converted to dollars.”

Second and similarly, the suit alleges that when a U.S. dollar price is given on labels affixed to the clothing, the dollar price is given in a label stuck over the euro price that was already on the tag.

“In this context, the dollar amount similarly is far in excess of the true converted amount if the euro price printed on the tag were properly converted to dollars,” the court documents state.

“Rather than converting an original euro price to an equivalent American dollar price,” the documents add,” Zara simply chooses a higher dollar amount that bears no relation to the relevant conversion rate.”

Rose said he purchased three shirts, which he claimed were “€9.95” each, from one of the company’s stores in May.

“At the time that Mr. Rose made his purchases, the actual euro-dollar exchange rate would have resulted in his €9.95 shirts costing approximately $11.26,” the suit claims. “However, Zara charged Mr. Rose $17.90 per garment, a markup of nearly 60%.”

Zara has denied the allegations calling them “baseless.”

“Zara USA vehemently denies any allegations that the company engages in deceptive pricing practices in the United States,” a company spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. “While we have not yet been served the complaint containing these baseless claims, we pride ourselves in our fundamental commitment to transparency and honest, ethical conduct with our valued customers.”

The suit seeks damages, to be determined at trial.

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iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) — U.S. officials confirmed South Korea’s claims Tuesday that North Korea submarine-launched a missile.

U.S. Strategic Command said it was “likely a KN-11 ballistic missile” that was launched off the coast of Sinpo, flying about 300 miles into the Sea of Japan.

The missile launch was determined to not pose a threat to North America, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

“The men and women of USSTRATCOM, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Pacific Command remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security,” U.S. Strategic Command said in a statement.

The missile launch comes two days after the U.S. and South Korea began the allies’ annual joint military exercises.

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Tesla(NEW YORK) — The Tesla Model S P100D, with its new 100 kWh battery, is the “world’s fastest production car,” CEO Elon Musk announced Tuesday.

The electric car — which can now travel an estimated 315 miles on just one charge, farther than any other electric vehicle — can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 2.5 seconds, according to Tesla. That acceleration rate puts it third in line behind the Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder — 2 million-dollar vehicles that are no longer being manufactured, Musk pointed out.

“It’s really quite a stark milestone,” the billionaire CEO told reporters Tuesday. “The fastest [production] car in the world of any kind is electric.”

“In the future, people are really going to look at gasoline cars the same way we look at steam engines today: like, they’re quaint, but it’s not really how you get around,” he said.

Despite the Model S’s heart-stopping acceleration, some analysts weren’t entirely enthusiastic.

“The performance of the 100D line is truly remarkable, and kudos should be given to Tesla for that. With that said, the Model 3 and Gigafactory are still the most relevant items for Tesla’s long-term viability,” Kelley Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand said in a statement, referring to Musk’s gargantuan battery plant in Nevada. “The 100D will still be out of buying range for the majority of consumers, so Tesla will need to figure out how to ‘upgrade’ current owners.”

“This recent announcement from Tesla is eye-opening, but nothing more than headline-grabbing showmanship,” added fellow Kelley Blue Book analyst Michael Harley. “True sports cars are not only capable in the sprint, but are adept in handling and braking as well — his sedan and crossover lack both of those skills. With limited top speeds, and the inability to circle a complete racing circuit without overheating, they are nothing more than a pair of one-trick ponies. Tesla needs to focus on building a quality product, taking care of its customers, and profitability — not accelerating away from its issues at breakneck velocities.”

Current owners can upgrade their batteries for $20,000, which also covers recycling of their old battery packs. New customers can upgrade for $10,000.

The 100 kWh battery will also be available in the Model X, which will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds and travel an estimated 289 miles on a single charge.

“That’s nuts,” Musk said. “I think this is really going to send a great message to the public that sustainable transport is the future.”

Tesla has been under fire in recent months following a series of accidents involving Autopilot, its driver-assist feature. The next software update will include “material improvement to autonomy of the car,” according to Musk.

Despite the setbacks, Musk asserted that “electric is the future.”

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