The earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday has killed at least 159 people, the country’s civil protection agency said, raising a previous count of 124.
The search for bodies is continuing through the night and “won’t slow down,” civil protection head Fabrizio Curcio said.
Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, had previously said at least 120 people have been killed by the earthquake that struck Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“This is not a final toll,” Mr Renzi said after visiting rescue workers at the centre of the earthquake zone in central Italy.
Mr Renzi thanked rescuers for their efforts in recovering dozens of people from rubble caused by a massive earthquake in the region.
“At moments of trouble Italy knows how to cope. No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone,” he said.
The 6.2 magnitude quake, which sent residents fleeing their homes and running into the streets, is Italy’s deadliest since a 2009 quake in the same area. A family of four were also trapped under the rubble and showing no signs of life.
The shallow quake, estimated to have struck after 3:30am at a depth of six miles, was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic centre felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.
The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Perozzi, told state-run RAI Radio 1 that there were downed buildings in the town centre and that the lights had gone out. He said he was unable to get in touch with emergency responders or reach the hospital.
“What can I tell you? It’s a tragedy,” he said. “Half the town is gone. There are people under the rubble… There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse.”
A resident of the Rieti region, which is between Rome and the epicentre of the quake, told the Rainews24 channel that she and most of her neighbours had come out onto the street after feeling “very strong shaking.”
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the magnitude at 6.1. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.2, with the epicenter at Norcia, about 105 miles northwest of Rome.
In 2009 a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
Italy is often shaken by earthquakes. Another quake hit the northern Emilia Romagna region in May 2012, when two violent shocks 10 days apart left 23 people dead and 14,000 others homeless.
4,370 rescue workers are in action across the territory, Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement.
Also involved in the operation nine helicopters, 200 emergency vehicles and 50 canine rescue squads.
A ten-year-old girl, named by Rai as Giorgia, was pulled out from the rubble alive 17 hours after the earthquake in Pescara del Tronto. A girl believed to be her sister did not make it.
Rescue workers continue to work through the night.
Among the victims of an earthquake in Italy was an 18-month-old girl whose mother survived the deadly earthquake of 2009 in nearby L’Aquila and moved away from there after that terrible experience.
The news agency ANSA reported that the toddler, Marisol Piermarini, was sleeping in her bed in the family’s vacation home in Arquata del Tronto when the quake struck early on Wednesday.
Her mother, Martina Turco, survived the earthquake that struck L’Aquila, killing more than 300 people.
Now she is being treated in a hospital after being pulled from the rubble as the family mourns the death of the little girl.
“Tonight will be our first nightmare night,” said Alessandro Gabrielli, one of hundreds preparing to sleep in tents erected by rescue workers in fields and parking lots, each one housing 12 people whose homes had been destroyed.
“Last night, I woke up with a sound that sounded like a bomb,” he added.
Rescuers working with emergency lighting in the darkness saved a 10-year-old girl, pulling her out of the rubble alive, where she had lain for some 17 hours in the hamlet of Pescara del Tronto.
Many other children were not so lucky. In the nearby village of Accumoli, a family of four, including two boys aged 8 months and 9 years, were buried when their house imploded.
As rescue workers carried away the body of the infant, carefully covered by a small blanket, the children’s grandmother blamed God: “He took them all at once,” she wailed.
Prime minister Matteo Renzi said the Cabinet would meet on Thursday to decide measures to help the affected communities.
“The rescue operation is still ongoing, so the number will rise,” said civil protection head Fabrizio Curcio on Porta a Porta talk show on Rai1.
“Hotel Roma [in Amatriciana] can host between 70 and 80 people, we believe about 30 people were there when the quake struck. Of these 30, some have managed to escape, two people have been pulled out alive, two have died. More people have been sighted in the rubble. At the moment 25 firefighters are at work there.”
All the rescue services are operational. “The system won’t slow down during the night.” Mr Curcio concluded.
“There are 106 dead from the Lazio region and 53 on the Marche region side of the quake, bringing the latest toll to 159,” said Italy’s civic protection agency.
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi says the death toll has climbed to at least 120.
Pope Francis has dispatched one-sixth of the Vatican’s tiny fire brigade to join rescue efforts in Amatrice.
The Vatican said six of its firefighters travelled to the demolished town at the heart of the earthquake zone, to help rescuers in the ongoing search for survivors.
The city-state’s fire brigade has a total of 37 firefighters.
The Vatican contingent joins a stream of rescue workers and equipment, including heavy earth movers and sniffer dogs, that continued to arrive in the region on Wednesday evening.
What was once the thriving main street of Amatrice now looks like it has been hit by a sustained artillery attack, writes our Rome correspondent Nick Squires.
One of the buildings worst hit was the convent and church of the Most Holy Crucifix.
The three-storey building folded in on itself, its historic bell tower crashing to the ground.
I was sleeping but suddenly heard this strange noise. I woke up and saw that everything was destroyed, said Marianna, 35, a nun who was helping to look after the elderly people staying in the convent on a summer retreat.
She sustained a deep gash to her forehead and her hair was matted with blood and dust.
She was rescued by a young local man who hauled her out of the wreckage.
They then heard more cries for help – two other nuns were trapped in the debris. This time it was a pair of local forest rangers who went to the rescue.
They performed a very heroic act, they risked their lives. I’m sure God will reward them, Marianna said. A panel on the outside of the convent that recounts its history notes that it was badly damaged by an earthquake before – back in 1639.
Angela Merkel has become the latest world leader to offer emergency assistance to Italy.
“The pictures we seeing are awful. We will be ready to do everything we can to help Italy if needed, and our thoughts are with the people of the region today,” Mrs Merkel said a news conference in Estonia.
Vladimir Putin earlier offered to send “any necessary” assistance from Russia to help cope with the aftermath of the quake.
Holly Bancroft has some more details on the family trapped under rubble in Accumoli:
Rescuers tried to save them for hours. In the early hours of the morning the photographer Emiliano Grillotti described the work of at least 15 people who were digging with their bare hands to get them out: ” You could hear the screams of the mother and one of the children.”
The children were aged 8 months and 9 years. They were killed when their house in Accumoli collapsed.
As the rescue workers carried away one of the bodies the children’s grandmother blamed God saying, “He took them all at once”.
This is the moment a rescue worker comforts a woman trapped under rubble in Capodacqua, Italy. She was later rescued and taken to hospital.
Eve Read from London, who’s on holiday with her family close to the epicentre of the Italian earthquake, describes how they were forced to huddle for shelter by the door of their holiday home.
From the Telegraph’s Meabh Ritchie:
Holly Bancroft reports:
Andrea Serafini, 7, has died following the earthquake according to Italian media.
His aunt, Maria Rita, was seen weeping and kept on repeating I saw him and CPR was useless.
A two year old girl caught up in a building collapse caused by the earthquake in Amatrice has also died.
She was in the hospital of Ascoli Piceno, where she had been taken this morning.
Con la protezione civile per aiutare i cittadini del centro Italia colpiti dal sisma. Roma offrirà mezzi e risorse. pic.twitter.com/PPgd8WkFqR
Henry Samuel reports:
Restaurants across Italy are being called upon to donate one euro from sales of the famed amatriciana pasta dish, which was invented in Amatrice, to the Red Cross in order to help earthquake victims. The plea is circulating on Twitter.
The amatriciana pasta dish consists of a slightly spicy tomato and bacon sauce on top of spaghetti or the flatter linguini.
“International disaster relief agency ShelterBox, based in the UK but with an affiliate organisation in Milan, is sending a team within 24 hours to the remote mountainous area of Italy that suffered a major quake and a series of tremors during last night,” the charity said in a statement.
“If emergency or temporary shelter is needed for families and individuals made homeless in the disaster, ShelterBox has adequate supplies of tents and other equipment standing by in the UK and at other sites across Europe.”
Matteo Renzi adds:
“Pulling people out of the rubble is difficult but you can see how good out civil protection workers have been.
“At moments of trouble Italy knows how to cope. No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone.”
Francois Hollande, the French president, has also paid tribute to the earthquake’s victims.
“The earthquake in Italy is a terrible tragedy. I offer my solidarity to the people of Italy and to Mr Renzi,” he said.
In a statement Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, thanked rescue crews and said he is on his way to the earthquake zone.
Henry Samuel reports:
Meanwhile, in Pescara del Tronto, two brothers aged four and seven have been pulled out of the rubble after their aunt pushed them under the bed when the quake struck. The woman is still trapped under the rubble but is answering the calls of rescue workers, according to Ansa.
Italy’s civil protection agency says 37 people have been killed in the earthquake.
Two children are feared to be among the dead.
Henry Samuel reports:
Amatrice Mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, says he expects the death toll will rise substantially. There are tens of victims, many of them still under the rubble, he told news agency Ansa. We are preparing a place where we can put the bodies. The population of Amatrice is around 2,646.
Stefano Petrucci, mayor of Accumoli, a town of 635, has said that after walking through the town, none of the houses seemed habitable anymore. We will need tents for the whole population, he said, according to La Stampa.
Facebook has launched its ‘safety check’ feature for the earthquake.
The mayor of the small town of Accumoli has said that nine people have been confirmed dead.
He added that a further 2,000 people lost their homes to the earthquake.
Paola Mancini, 79, says she heard nurses yelling “get out, get out” from the corridors of the Grifoni hospital in Amatrice, Saphora Smith reports.
It was around 3:30 in the morning when her bed started shaking, she told the Corriere della Sera on Wednesday.
We were on the hospital ward, we got up and we tried to run as we possibly could. A minute later we were outside. In the corridor we met a doctor who tried to calm us down as much he could.
Ms Mancini had gone into hospital on Tuesday for a check-up and stayed overnight. There were 14 other patients in the small hospital in Amatrice, Umbria.
It was a long shake. We were really scared, we were paralysed with terror. I heard everything around me crumble she said.
Nick Squires in Amatrice reports:
Rescue workers are trying to pull people out, they keep calling out for any life that is down there. Ten minutes ago they pulled up a stretcher with a woman on it who did not appear to have survived.
There are sniffer dogs, bulldozers here also, but many people are pulling out rubble by hand. Alpine rescue caving specialists are burrowing down into the rubble.
“So many of the people that we know in the village are now dead,” a villager told me earlier.
“Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists and hearing that there are children among the victims, I am deeply saddened,” the Pope told thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square earlier.
He has cancelled a speech he was due to give at his daily audience and is instead praying with a crowd for victims of the disaster.
For the past hour, dozens of rescue workers have been trying to pull survivors from out of the rubble in Amatrice – and moments ago they appeared to have succeeded, having removed one man on a stretcher.
He was wrapped in a thermal blanket and whisked away from the scene.
The family of four trapped under rubble in Amatrice have died according to local media reports. Two of the family members were children.
Officials say the death toll is expected to rise – at least 20 people have already been killed.
Eve Read, from London, has tweeted a series of images showing the damage to her farmhouse in central Italy.
It looks like a rescue attempt is underway in Amatrice, where workers have just passed a stretcher down into a cavity in a large pile of rubble.
Italian news agency Ansa reports that ten of those who died in the quake were in Pescara, a hamlet close to the small town of Arquata del Tronto.
Rescuers in Amatrice told how they were desperately short of digging equipment and have been forced to move rubble with their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors, Patrick Sawer reports.
“The town isn’t here anymore,” Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi said earlier.
The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m local time and was felt across central Italy, including the capital Rome where residents felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.
The death toll has now risen to 21, according to Ansa, the Italian news agency, but the actual toll is feared much higher, reports Henry Samuel.
Some 11 bodies have been recovered in the Lazio area, including six in Accumuli and five in Amatrice in the Rieti province, and another 10 in Pescaraa del Tronto in the Marche area.
A woman told how her elderly parents were trapped in their home in Amatrice when it came crashing down during the earthquake, reports Patrick Sawer.
Flavia Marino, from Rome, wrote on Twitter that her mother and father were eventually rescued from the collapsed apartment block by local fire and rescue services.
She said: “I tried calling them when I heard about the quake but got no answer. I was desperate for news. “The apartment block where they live had partially collapsed.
“I’m so thankful to the fire crews who rescued them.”
The latest reports indicate the death toll has now climbed to 13.
This aerial photo shows what Amatrice now looks like from above – scores of buildings have been decimated and it is feared many people are still trapped in the rubble.
At least ten people have died in the earthquake, the Associated Press reports, citing local officials.
It is feared the death toll could rise further as emergency services are yet to reach some of the smaller hamlets hit by the quake.
Nick Squires in Amatrice writes:
Dozens of people are beneath the rubble, they are digging people out now. They have just found a 6-year-old child alive. A lot of the ambulances passing me on the road are taking casualties to the nearby city of L’Aquila.
Two bodies have been pulled from the rubble in Amatrice, central Italy.
They are the first known victims of the quake, though the mayor of the nearby town of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, has said a family of four is trapped under the rubble there with “no signs of life.”
There are fears that the death toll could rise as a lot of villages that have been hit are small hamlets that the rescue services are yet to access, reports Nick Squires in Italy.
A regiment of the Italian army is on its way and authorities say the damage is comparable to the earthquake in L’Aquila, which left 308 dead.
It was felt as far away as Rome. I am on my way to the earthquake zone and can see quite a few ambulances coming through – the mayor of one village said it was “half-destroyed.”
Tourists more than 100 miles away from the epicentre of an earthquake that has hit central Italy were woken by the tremors.
The magnitude 6.2 quake had its epicentre in Norcia in Umbria, about 105 miles north east of Rome.
Sarah Conrad, who works for YouTube in London and is visiting the Italian capital, said she was woken up in the early hours and also felt aftershocks.
She tweeted: “Pretty sure I was just woken up by an earthquake in £rome.
“I thought someone snuck into my hotel room & was jumping on the bed. Both scary!”
Paul O’ Halloran, whose Twitter profile said he was in Rome, said: “Just got woke up by an earthquake! Bed and window shutters moving!”
Toby Shaw, from Hampshire, tweeted: “I’m really hoping that I’ve just experienced an earthquake in Rome, otherwise I’m not sure I want to know what it was that shook the room.”
Two bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a collapsed building in Amatrice, taking the confirmed death toll to five.
The first victims were an elderly couple whose home collapsed at Pescara del Tronto in the Marche region to the east of the epicentre, national broadcaster Rai and other media reported. One other person was reported dead at Accumoli, another village close to the epicentre.
In addition to the one confirmed death in Accumoli, four people were trapped under rubble and not responding to residents trying to reach them.
Nicola Alemanno, mayor of the Umbrian city of Norcia, close to the epicentre, said no deaths have been reported deaths 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 injuries,” he told Rai.
Television stations showed images of rubble-strewn streets in a number of towns. The facades of some old stone buildings had collapsed, leaving the inside rooms exposed.
The mayor of Arquata, Aleandro Petrucci, says “all the houses have collapsed” in Pescara del Tronto.
“It’s a disaster. We are trying to evacuate the village and move them to a sports field. I’ve just arrived and I feel like crying. I’ve never seen such an apocalyptic scene except for the L’Aquila earthquake on television.”
A doctor has told Radio 1 that the earthquake has badly damaged the hospital in Amatrice. He said it was so badly affected that patients were being redirected to Rieti.
In addition to the family of four trapped in the rubble, the AGI news agency said at least one other person had died in the small town of Accumoli, taking the confirmed death toll to three.
“We have a tragedy here,” Mr Petrucci, the mayor, said. “It is a disaster, we have no light, no telephones, the rescue services have not got here yet.”
Officials have told the state broadcaster RAI that at least six people are believed to have died in the quake.
The mayor of the central Italian town of Accumoli said a number of buildings had been badly damaged.
“Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children,” mayor Stefano Petrucci told RAI television.
RAI quoted local police as saying two people were known to have died in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto.
Antonella Marietti, a Rai journalist, reports that Umbria was rocked by two tremors.
“No injuries nor casualties reported so far. The mayor spoke of damages to buildings and one of the roads has been blocked by rocks.”
Francesco Anselmo, a pharmacist from Greciano, 5km from Accumoli, told Radio 1:
“Now that the sun has risen I can see a lot of rubble, the houses ripped up. The rescue services are not here yet, we don’t know what to do. Maybe an older lady has broken a leg but I haven’t heard of people trapped yet.
“We’ve been outside since half past three around a fire. All the houses are down. There are 150 people here but with people from Rome here we are maybe 300. All the houses, except maybe the new ones, have either collapsed or are split up.”
Facebook has activated its Safety Check facility for those caught up in the disaster.
The police have confirmed that two people – an elderly couple – have died as a result of the quake. The couple were in their house at the time.
Witnesses have started describing the moment when the quake struck.
In Ceselli, Umbria, Lina Mercantini told Reuters: “It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,”
Olga Urbani, in the nearby town of Scheggino, said: “Dear God it was awful. The walls creaked and all the books fell off the shelves.”
The mayor of the Umbrian town of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, is appealing for help.
Asked if there were any dead, he said: “Look there are houses that aren’t here anymore. I hope we get some help.”
The Red Cross has confirmed what Mr Pirozzi said, reporting that a bridge has collapsed, which has slowed down the first rescue. It said there were a lot of calls to civil protection and firefighters from the area.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said the earthquake was “severe” and there had been reports of damage, while a refuge on Gran Sasso mountain, in the Abruzzo region, said on its Facebook page that a large piece of rock had collapsed in the quake.
In Ascoli Piceno, firefighters say there are wounded but no deaths reported so far.
The mayor of Amatrice, which so far appears to be one of the centres worst affected by the quake, said that half of the town is gone.
“Half of the town is gone. People are trapped under the rubble,” he told RaiNews24.
He said that access roads are blocked and asked for help to free them.
“There has been a landslide on one road and the other connects us through a bridge that is about to collapse. People are gathering in sports centres. We don’t have any power.”
Ansa reports that buildings in Umbria and Marche have been damaged and some have collapsed in Accumoli and Amatrice.
Some building have been damaged in Ascoli Piceno and Norcia. Firefighters and police are verifying the extent of the damage.
Italian Civic Protection Agancy says that it has reports of building collapsing in central Italy after “severe quake.”
The newspaper Republica reports that the quake lasted for about 20 seconds.
Radio Rai reports that the desks in their Rome offices shook and reports that it was felt across the peninsula from the Tirreno Sea to the Adriatic Sea.
It said there were two quakes, one around magnitude 6.0 with the epicentre close to Cumuli (Rieti), the other 4.8 magnitude. The main earthquake was shallow, at 4 km deep, according to Ansa Amatrice, north-east of rieti region.
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