The death toll from a powerful earthquake that devastated parts of central Italy has reached 247 as rescue and search operations are underway to find possible survivors.
On Thursday, Italy’s civil protection agency said a tally by local officials showed that 190 people were killed Rieti Province and 57 in the province of Ascoli Piceno.
According to local media,Italian emergency crews are vigorously searching through the debris of collapsed houses in the affected areas to find more than 100 people missing a day after the quake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale flattened scores of towns and villages in the central parts.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said many people were still trapped under the rubble, and vowed that “no family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind.”
Officials in Italy’s civil protection agency also said there have been more than 300 aftershocks following the tremor, which was also felt in Rome, adding that searching for survivors is the top priority.
The 2,000-population town of Amatrice, one of the areas hardest hit by the Wednesday quake, is now in ruins with only a few buildings left standing.
“We were sound asleep. Suddenly we heard a horrifying sound. Then the bed started to shake; all the doors on the cabinets opened and started to shake as well; all the walls collapsed, and the windows shattered. It was horrifying,” said an Amatrice resident.
Other towns of Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto in central Italy have also been reduced to ruins after the devastating quake.
“Unfortunately, 90 percent we pull out are dead, but some make it, that's why we are here,” said Christian Bianchetti, a volunteer from Rieti who was working in devastated Amatrice
In 2009, the Aquila region in central Italy was jolted a 6.3-magnitude quake, which killed over 300 people.
Two other tremors also jolted the northern Emilia Romagna region in May 2012, leaving nearly two dozen people dead and some 14,000 others homeless.