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Home » News » Latest World News

Race To Find Survivors Of Deadly Italy Quake

At least 38 people are believed to have been killed and many more unaccounted for after a strong earthquake struck central Italy, causing extensive damage to buildings and blackouts.

As dawn broke, emergency services and residents were scrambling to rescue people trapped under the ruins of razed old buildings, digging with shovels, bulldozers and even their bare hands to reach survivors.

Dazed and frightened families - some in tears - could be seen huddling in the streets, wrapped in blankets.

Ten people were reportedly killed in Pescara del Tronto, in the Marche region, to the east of the epicentre.

Among the dead were an elderly couple who died when their home collapsed.

Seventy-five-year-old Rocco Girardi was brought out alive from the carnage in Arquata del Tronto.

Aleandro Petrucci, the village's mayor, said Pescara was one of "two or three hamlets that have just completely disintegrated".

The mayor of Accumoli, where two bodies have so far been recovered, said he had seen no signs of life from a family of four, including two children, trapped under debris.

"Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared," said Stefano Petrucci.

Sergio Perozzi, mayor of Amatrice, a remote town in northern Lazio devastated by the quake, told state-run RAI radio that buildings had collapsed and lights had gone out across the town centre.

"The town isn't here anymore," said Mr Perozzi. "The aim is now to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there."

Several bodies have so far been found among the rubble, but images also showed survivors - including a woman and a child - being pulled out alive from beneath the ruins, as well as a dog rescued.

At the town's badly damaged hospital, patients were reportedly being moved out into the streets.

The quake struck just after 3.30am local time and was felt across a large swathe of the country, including in Rome, where people in the historic centre were woken by rattling furniture and swaying light-fittings, followed by aftershocks.

"It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it," said Lina Mercantini, of Cesalli, Umbria.

Pope Francis prayed with the crowds at his general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday for victims and survivors, saying: "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 European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the epicentre was northeast of Rome, near Norcia in Umbria, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude at 6.2.

In 2009 a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in L'Aquila, 55 miles south of the latest quake, killing more than 300 people.

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