- At least 73 people were reported killed and dozens missing or feared dead following Wednesday magnitude-6.2 earthquake and a series of after-effect struck several towns in central Italy.
- Several buildings were said to have toppled, according to Italy’s civil protection agency.
Hardest hit towns were in the regions of Umbria, Marche and Lazio some 80 – 100 miles northeast of Rome, Italy.
The head of the civil protection agency, Immacolata Postiglione, gave the breakdown at a briefing on Wednesday but stressed the figures were still provisional.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Italian news agency, ANSA reported at least 35 people were killed in the town of Amatrice, 17 in the province of Ascoli Piceno, which includes Pescara del Tronto and 11 in Accumoli, near Rieti.
As rescue teams using bulldozers and bare hands claw through piles of rubble, authorities warned the death toll may likely rise.
However, the mayor of Amatrice, Mayor Sergio Pirozzi, told the Associated Press that rescue teams are putting in their best to reach all 69 hamlets around his town.
“Half of the town doesn’t exist anymore,” Mayor Pirozzi told RAI-TV. “People are stuck underneath the rubble. Houses are no longer there.”
Police close to the town of Ascoli said they could hear cries for help from under the rubble but didnt get the heavy equipment to remove the rocks, according the RAI radio.
In Accumoli, one witness told ANSA that police and fire teams searching for a young couple and 2 kids in a pile of debris were alternating earth-moving equipment with individuals using bare hands.
The center of Amatrice was devastated and houses collapsed on residents as they slept. Pirozzi said the earthquake leveled several buildings and knocked out power to the community, obstructing communications with emergency responders.
The local hospital was badly hit also, forcing the wounded and stretcher-bearers to assemble in front of the building. Ambulances then transferred patients to other towns.