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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dozens feared dead after 6.2 earthquake strikes Italy

Residents carry an injured victim from a damaged building

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, levelling buildings in several towns as residents slept. The mayor of hard-hit Amatrice said people were trapped under debris. (Aug. 24) AP

(Photo: Filippo Monteforte, AFP/Getty Images)

ROME — At least 21 people were killed and dozens more were missing or feared dead Wednesday after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake and a series of aftershocks struck several towns in central Italy, according to local news reports.

The death toll climbed in the morning as rescuers searched for people trapped in the rubble. The hardest-hit towns were Amatrice and Accumoli nearRieti, about 80 miles northeast of Rome.

Police near the town of Ascoli said they could hear cries for help from under the rubble but lack the heavy equipment to move the rocks, according the RAI radio.

“Half of the town doesn’t exist anymore,” Sergio Perozzi, mayor of Amatrice, told RAI-TV. “People are stuck underneath the rubble. Houses are no longer there.”

Several buildings collapsed and lights went out after the earthquake, Perozzi said. He said he had trouble communicating with emergency responders and couldn't reach the hospital. The center of Amatrcie was devastated and homes collapsed on residents as they slept.

“The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me,” resident Maria Gianni told the Associated Press. “I just manag
A car lies under a damaged wall after a strong quake

Residents stand next to damaged buildings.

A man reacts after a strong heathquake hit Amatrice

A man is carried among damaged homes.

Rescuers clear debris while searching for victims in

The picturesque medieval town of about 3,000 residents — best known as the home of “pasta all’amatriciana” — is remote and was cut off after a bridge connecting the town and the rest of the region was damaged in the quake.

Search parties sifted through the rubble in various towns and villages as the sun rose. It became clear for some officials that the extent of the damage was worse than they initially thought.

"Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life," Pertucci, Accumoli mayor, told RAI-TV.

Fabrizio Curcio, the director of Italy’s civil protection agency, activated national emergency procedures. He said the quake was on par with one in L'Aquilla in 2009 that left more than 300 people dead.

The first earthquake struck around 3:30 a.m. local time near Norcia, a small town roughly 105 miles from Rome, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. No victims were reported there, but the quakes damaged buildings, according to RaiNews24.

“Much of our patrimony is damaged, but there are no victims,” Mayor Nicola Alemanno told RaiNews24. “That is the good news.”

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