Rome, Aug 25: A strong earthquake of 6.2 magnitude that struck the mountains in central Italy on Wednesday, has resulted in at least 247 deaths and affected several villages and towns, according to Civil Protection Department officials.
More than 360 others were injured and many were still believed to be buried under rubble with over 4,300 rescuers deployed to find them.
Earlier Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that “At least 120 people have been killed and 368 injured in an earthquake that hit a mountainous area of central Italy.” However, “This is not a final toll,” Renzi warned.
A series of aftershocks occurred in the region, toppling scores of buildings, according to reports.
Many persons are still believed to be trapped beneath building debris, while rescue operations are underway to reach remote villages and towns levelled in the quake.
The Prime Minister had paid tribute to the volunteers and civil defence personnel who rushed to the scene in the mid-night and used their bare hands to rescue people.
The earthquake struck at a shallow depth of 10 km. The epicentre of the quake was in Norcia in Umbria, about 170 km north-east of Rome, while the hardest hit were the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto.Much of the town of Amatrice was reduced to rubble. Amatrice is famous for its traditional all’amatriciana pasta sauce, and was gearing up to hold a festival celebrating the recipe this weekend, CNN reported.
The town is popular with holidaymakers and most of the 2,500 people left displaced by the earthquake were said to be visitors.
The Italian branch of the Red Cross pressed 20 ambulances and sniffer dogs to affected areas alongside the Italian Defence Ministry.