Rescuers work frantically as Italian quake death toll soars
THE death toll from a devastating earthquake in central Italy reached at least 250 people yesterday and could rise further after rescue teams worked through the night to try to find survivors under the rubble of flattened towns.
The 6.2-magnitude quake struck a cluster of mountain communities 140km east of Rome early on Wednesday as people slept, destroying hundreds of homes.
Officials said they expected to confirm more deaths as the search operation continued.
An army of emergency workers using sniffer dogs clambered over piles of debris trying to find anyone still buried beneath.
Trucks full of rubble left the area every few minutes, including one in which a dusty doll could be seen lying on top of tons of debris.
Yesterday, the sun rose on frightened people who had slept in cars or tents, the earth continuing to tremble under their feet from aftershocks, hundreds of which have struck since the quake.
Two registered5.1 and 5.4, just before dawn.
“I haven’t slept much because I was really afraid,” 70-year-old Arturo Onesi from the town of Arquata del Tronto said.
He spent the night in a tent camp for survivors and rescue workers.
The earthquake was powerful enough to be felt in Bologna to the north and Naplesto the south, both more than 220km from the epicentre.
Many of those killed or injured were holiday makers in the four worst-hit towns –Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli – where populations increase by up to tenfold in the summer.
That makes it harder to track the deaths.
One Spaniard, five Romanians, and a number of other foreigners, some of them caregivers for the elderly, were believed to be among the dead, officials said.
Aerial video taken by drones showed swathes of Amatrice, last year voted one of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns, completely flattened. The town had been filling up for the 50th edition of a popular food festival this weekend.
The mayor said the bodies of 15-20tourists were believed to be under the rubble of the Hotel Roma.
About 270 people injured in the quake were hospitalised, the civil protection said.
Rescuers working with emergency lighting in the darkness saved a 10-year-old girl, pulling her alive from the rubble where she had lain for about 15 hours.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s cabinet was meeting yesterday to decide emergency
assistance measures. – Reuters