Rome - A magnitude 4.5 earthquake near the Aeolian islands off Italy's southern coast triggered rockslides near a crowded beach on Monday, sparking panic but no causing injuries, officials and Italian media said.

Local news reports initially reported as many as seven people suffered injuries after the quake struck near the main island of Lipari at 1254 GMT, but officials later denied any caused by the fall of rocks.

"There are no injuries or victims," Senate speaker Renato Schifani, who was vacationing in the area aboard a boat and was evacuated by authorities, told Italian television channel Sky TG24. "The situation is under control."

Local health officials said at least six people suffered panic attacks, including some who jumped into the sea when the rockslides occurred and were bitten by jellyfish, the Ansa news agency said.

"I've never seen the ground shake like this before," Andrea Graffagnini, an event promoter who was in Lipari when the quake struck, told Ansa. "I saw people screaming and jumping into the water in fear."

Italian television showed images of large white dust clouds extending from mountain tops to the sea below after the quake.

The Aeolian islands, a volcanic archipelago off the northern coast of Sicily, are a popular destination for tourists, especially in the peak summer holiday season in August.