“Voices Under the Rubble” After Earthquake Hits Italy, 247 Dead
The quake struck when most residents were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of communities.
A strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake brought down buildings in central Italy early on Wednesday, trapping and sending residents fleeing into the streets.
After rescue teams worked though the night to find survivors under the rubble, the death toll rose to 247. Earlier, Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, had confirmed that at least 120 people have been killed in the earthquake.
With 368 people injured, some critically, and an unknown number trapped under rubble the civil protection department warned that the death toll could climb higher.
The quake caused serious damage to a number of towns and villages, but did not seem to have hit heavily populated areas.
The epicenter was around Accumoli, one of the the worst-hit towns along with Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto, spokesperson for the Italian fire department Luca Cari told Reuters. Helicopters would be sent up at first light to assess the damage, he said.
The quake struck when most residents were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of communities. The residents were trapped under under a pile of rubble of collapsed buildings which also left thousands homeless.
Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi said he would visit the disaster area later in the day.
No one will be left alone, no family, no community, no neighborhood. We must get down to work... to restore hope to this area which has been so badly hit.Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister
The Prime Minister ’s office also said rescue teams were being sent to the worst-hit areas.
The mayor of Accumoli said a number of buildings had been badly damaged.
Three quarters of the town is not there anymore. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there.Sergio Pirozzi, Mayor
Pirozzi added that he wants to save as many lives as possible and find whoever is missing in the town.
A family of four, including two boys ages 8 months and 9 years, were buried under the rubble of their house with no sign of life.Sergio Pirozzi, Mayor
While Italian broadcast channel RAI quoted police as saying two people were known to have died in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto, the mayor of the small town of Amatrice reported extensive damage.
The earthquake caused damage to towns in three regions – Umbria, Lazio and Marche.
The US Geological Survey said it struck near the Umbrian city of Norcia, which has a picturesque historic centre and is a popular tourist site.
Mayor Nicola Alemanno said no deaths have been reported in Norcia.
The anti-seismic structures of the town have held. There is damage to the historic heritage and buildings, but we do not have any serious injuriesMayor Nicola Alemanno to RAI
Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.
The last major earthquake to hit the country struck the central city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing more than 300 people.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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