At least 10 people were feared killed and dozens were injured when an earthquake measuring magnitude 5.8 struck the mid-Atlantic Portuguese Azores islands on Thursday, civil protection officials said.

They said five people were confirmed dead and there were unconfirmed reports of five more deaths.Rescue workers dug for the bodies of people in the rubble of their homes wrecked by the quake on Faial island, they said. They pulled three corpses from one house in the Ribeirinha district of Faial.

The quake hit hardest the neighboring islands of Faial and Pico, civil protection officials said. It was also felt in Terceira, Corvo and Sao Jorge in the nine-island archipelago. Officials said they feared aftershocks.

Some 1,000 people in Faial - almost one-tenth the local population - were homeless, they said.