Italy earthquake: Death toll reaches 247 amid rescue efforts


The death toll in the Italian earthquake has risen to at least 247 as thousands of rescuers continue efforts to find survivors.

Dozens are believed trapped in ruined Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, in mountainous central Italy.

The search went on through the night, and there was a strong aftershock which rocked already damaged buildings.

More than 4,300 rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment and their bare hands.

Many of the victims were children, the health minister said, and there were warnings the toll could rise further.

  • Confusion and shock: Witnesses give their accounts
  • Aerial shots of quake-hit Italy
  • In pictures: before and after
  • History of deadly earthquakes
  • Can quakes be predicted?

The 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT) on Wednesday 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome.

The latest death toll was given on Thursday morning – 190 deaths in Rieti province and 57 in neighbouring Ascoli Piceno province.

Quake damage in Amatrice (24 August 2016)Image copyrightAP
Image captionAmatrice: Most of the pretty historic town is now rubble, blanketed in grey dust
Home exposed by quake in Amatrice, 25 Aug 16Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe interior of a home in Amatrice exposed by the quake

Rescuers said they had pulled five bodies from the ruins of the Hotel Roma in the historic town of Amatrice. As many as 70 tourists were staying at the hotel when the quake struck. Many are feared to be in the rubble, though several were pulled out and given medical care.

Late on Wednesday there were cheers in the village of Pescara del Tronto when a young girl was pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours. Almost all the houses there had collapsed, the mayor said.

Media captionSister Marianna: “I went outside to ask for help, but no one heard me”

The quake struck small towns and villages in the mountainous area where the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche meet.

People there spent the night outside or in tents provided by the emergency services.

Among the victims was an 18-month-old toddler, Marisol Piermarini, whose mother Martina Turco survived the deadly¬†2009 earthquake in L’Aquilaand moved away from there after the experience, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Ms Turco was being treated in hospital after being pulled from the rubble in the village of Arquata del Tronto, Ansa said.

Map showing towns affected by the earthquake and their proximity to Perugia and Rome
Firefighters work in the night at a collapsed house following an earthquake in AmatriceImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe search for survivors continued overnight
People cover themselves with blankets as they prepare to spend the night in the open following an earthquake in AmatriceImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionAmatrice residents spent the night outdoors

The area has also been shaken by strong aftershocks, including a 4.7-magnitude tremor with its epicentre about 7km east of Norcia, according to the US Geological Survey.

The mayor of Amatrice said three-quarters of the town had been destroyed and no building was safe for habitation.

Many of those affected were on holiday in the region. Some were in Amatrice for a festival to celebrate a famous local speciality – amatriciana bacon and tomato sauce.

The country is no stranger to earthquakes: the 2009 L’Aquila tremor killed more than 300 people and in May 2012¬†two tremors nine days apart killed more than 20 people in the northern Emilia Romagna region.

Why is Italy at risk of earthquakes? By Jonathan Amos

Earthquakes are an ever-present danger for those who live along the Apennine mountain range in Italy.

Through the centuries thousands have died as a result of tremors equal to, or not much bigger than, the event that struck in the early hours of Wednesday. The modern response, thankfully, has been more robust building and better preparation.

Map showing the earthquake and its aftershocks in central Italy - 24 August 2016

Mediterranean seismicity is driven by the great collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates; but when it comes down to the specifics of this latest quake, the details are far more complicated.

The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of Italy, between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up.

Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or “pull-apart”, along the Apennines. This stress is compounded by movement in the east, in the Adriatic.

The result is a major fault system that runs the length of the mountain range with a series of smaller faults that fan off to the sides. The foundations of cities like Perugia and L’Aquila stand on top of it all.

Quakes ‘ever present’ for Italy’s Apennines

The earthquake badly damaged the centre of Amatrice, shown in these two pictures of the same street before and after the quake - 24 August 2016Image copyrightGOOGLE/AP
Image captionThese pictures show the main street in Amatrice before and after the quake
An image of some of the damage on the Via Salaria road in Pescara del Tronto compared to an image of the street before the quake - 24 August 2016Image copyrightGOOGLE/EPA
Image captionThese images show the hamlet of Pescara del Tronto before and after