At least 73 people have been killed – including a baby girl – and 81 wounded after an “apocalyptic” earthquake destroyed medieval towns and villages in Italy overnight.
Panicked residents were sent fleeing into the streets as the powerful quake brought buildings crashing to the ground early this morning.
Today rescuers have been seen pulling bloodied victims to safety and frantically digging for survivors with their bare hands as screams can be heard from under the rubble.
The US Geological Survey said it was a 6.2 magnitude quake that hit near the town of Norcia, in the region of Umbria, at 3.36am local time.
Rescuers pull a victim from the rubble.
A little girl looks lost and afraid in the middle of the panic
People and rescuers stand near collapsed buildings following an earthquake.
An injured person of the earthquake receives medical treatment.
Victims described “apocalyptic” scenes in towns and villages near Umbria’s capital city of Perugia – which is especially popular with British holidaymakers.
Italian agency Ansa said the worst hit area was Amatrice after the small town was “split in two.”
Tourists even said they felt the terrifying shock more than 100 miles away in Rome after the quake is believed to have devastated the areas of Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto.
A man calls his relatives after the incident
Emergency crews carries a body from the wreckage
A body is carried away by rescuers
Hundreds feared missing after earthquake hits central Italy
A destroyed house in Accumoli
A baby girl, believed to be nine months old, was pulled dead from the rubble of her home in Arquata del Tronto, while her heartbroken parents were taken to hospital with injuries.
Among the missing in Amatrice are believed to be six refugees from Afghanistan – two of which have been named as Sultana, 26, and Hahmed, 27 – three nuns and four elderly guests at a local boarding house.
Paramedics are also desperately trying to save six-year-old twin girls pulled from the rubble earlier.
Rescuers work in the Italian central village of Accumoli
People and rescuers stand near collapsed buildings following an earthquake
A man looks shocked as he is carried away by rescuers on a chair
People take axes to the debris
Rescuers help a woman among damaged buildings
An aerial view of Amatrice shows the devastation caused to the small town
Meanwhile tourists were reported to be trapped in the remains of the town’s Hotel Roma – but it is not yet clear whether there are an British victims.
A hospital in the mountain town also had to be evacuated due to structural damage and was declared non-operational, but none of the patients were believed to be injured.
An elderly couple died after their home collapsed in nearby Pescara del Tronto, in the Marche region, where a baby was reportedly rescued from the wreckage.
Earthquake in Amatrice, Lazio Region, Italy
Old buildings were destroyed in the quake
Firefighters search through the wreckage in Amatrice
British mum Eve Read, from London, was holidaying with her family around 20 miles away from the epicentre of the disaster and was separated from her children while it was happening.
“We were all woken just after 3.30am our time this morning with relatively severe sideways shaking that felt like the bed but was obviously the house,” she explained on Good Morning Britain.
Eve explained how she and her husband had to wait for the shaking to stop enough before they could get to their young children in the room next door – but they were all safe.
The body of an unidentifeid child lies on a bench
A man stands among the rubble of a house after a strong earthquake hit Amatrice
Heroic rescuers carry a woman on a stretcher among damaged buildings after the strong earthquake hit central Italy
Rescuers clear debris while searching for victims in damaged buildings in Arquata del Tronto
A woman bursts into tears after been rescued from her home in Amatrice
The mayor of Accumoli said a number of buildings had been badly damaged and he feared a family of four had died, adding that an “unquantifiable” number of people were also “certainly” buried under rubble.
Photographer Emiliano Grillotti told Italian outlet Repubblica earlier that he had seen rescuers digging for a family of four with their bare hands as he could “hear one of the children screaming.”
Two brothers, aged four and seven, were pulled to safety nearby after trying to hide from the falling rubble by hiding under a bed with their grandmother.
Rescuers stand with the body of a child tragicaly killed in Arquata del Tronto
A panicked survivor is pulled from the rubble in Amatrice
Just one of the many buildings destroyed in Accumoli di Rieti
A mum is seen comforting her children after the horrifying disaster in central Italy
Mayor Stefano Petrucci told RAI: “All the houses” have collapsed in Pescara del Tronto.
He said: “I’ve never seen such an apocalyptic scene.”
“Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children.”
One of hundreds of people saved from the devastation
A man carries a pram among damaged buildings
An image released by firefighters in Amatrice shows the scale of the damage
A first aid camp in the courtyard of the hospital of Amatrice
The mayor of the small town of Amatrice said the area had suffered extensive damage.
“Half the town is gone,” Sergio Pirozzi told RAI state television. “There are people under the rubble… There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse.
“The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there.”
Updated map of the quake-hit region in Italy
A general view of Pescara del Tronto town destroyed by the earthquake
A man searches for victims among damaged buildings
A mum is seen comforting her children after the horrifying disaster in central Italy
Rescuers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher in Amatrice
He added today: “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.”
One eyewitness in Configno, outside Amatrice said: “It was a nightmare. We woke at 3.35 with furniture falling on the ground and walls that were swaying by a metre.
“We managed to leave home in a furious hurry, some people are still in their underpants in the street. We lit a fire in the piazza and went to get all the old people out of their homes.”
The worst hit towns were believed to be Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto, Cari
A satellite dish pokes out of the wreckage of a home
Residents walk past damaged buildings after a strong heartquake hit Amatrice
Valerio, from Amatrice told RietiLife: “The old houses have all collapsed. The main street is a disaster. We left in a tractor, going out of the house semi-naked. Now we are trying to help people in the village.”
Shocking pictures emerged today showing emergency teams and sniffer dogs searching for survivors.
Devastated residents were seen in tears among the wreckage as they took in what was left of their homes.
A survivor is lucky to be alive after many victims are believe to have been crushed or suffocated by the rubble
Rescuers carry a man from the rubble
Victims and rescuers walk among the rubble of houses in Amatrice
A man is carried away after been rescued alive from the ruins
Lina Mercantini of Ceselli, Umbria added: “It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it.”
Olga Urbani, in the nearby town of Scheggino, said: “Dear God it was awful. The walls creaked and all the books fell off the shelves.”
Resucers search for victims in damaged buildings after a strong heartquake hit Amatrice on August 24, 2016
Panicked residents were sent fleeing into the streets when the earthquake hit
A boy sleep in the boot of a car in Accumoli
The Italian branch of the Red Cross sent 20 ambulances and sniffer dogs to affected areas alongside the Italian Defense Ministry.
The National President of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca, is monitoring the developments in the Operating Committee of the Department of Civil Protection.
The mayor of the small town of Amatrice reported there had been extensive damage
The US Geological Survey said it was a 6.2 magnitude quake that hit near the town
A series of aftershocks were felt in the region after the huge quake, including a 5.5 magnitude aftershock that hit an hour after the initial quake.
However, Mayor Nicola Alemanno said no deaths had been reported in Norcia – the epicentre of the earthquake.
He added: “The anti-seismic structures of the town have held.
“There is damage to the historic heritage and buildings, but we do not have any serious injuries.”
Rescuers search for victims among the rubble of a house
Fire Department spokesman Luca Cari said: “There have been reports of victims” in the quake zone, but he did not have any precise details.
Aleandro Petrucci, the mayor of Arquata, said today: “It’s a disaster.
“We are trying to evacuate the village and move them to a sports field.
“I’ve just arrived and I feel like crying. I’ve never seen such an apocalyptic scene except for the L’Aquila earthquake on television.”
Rescuers clear debris while searching for victims in damaged buildings after a strong heartquake hit Amatrice on August 24, 2016.
A rescuer helps a person from a window in Amatrice
Tourists in Rome, some 170 km (105 miles) from the registered epicentre, were woken by the quake, which rattled furniture and swayed lights in most of central Italy.
Sarah Conrad, who works for YouTube in London and is visiting the Italian capital, said she was woken up in the early hours and also felt aftershocks.
She tweeted: “Pretty sure I was just woken up by an earthquake in Rome.
“I thought someone snuck into my hotel room & was jumping on the bed. Both scary!”
Italy’s civil protection agency said the earthquake was “severe”
Rescuers work at a collapsed house following a quake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016
Paul O’ Halloran, whose Twitter profile said he was in Rome said: “Just got woke up by an earthquake! Bed and window shutters moving!”
Toby Shaw, from Hampshire, tweeted: “I’m really hoping that I’ve just experienced an earthquake in Rome, otherwise I’m not sure I want to know what it was that shook the room.”
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s spokesman said on Twitter that the government was in touch with the country’s civil protection agency and following the situation closely.
Tommaso della Longa, a spokesman for the Red Cross, said a grim scene is emerging from Amatrice this morning.
Residents are helped after the earthquake in Amatrice
A woman is helped to leave her homeHe said: “The picture we got from our delegate in Amatrice are telling us a terrible story of a small city almost completely destroyed.
“The situation is difficult at the moment.
“These areas are in central Italy and are in middle of mountains and valleys.
“There are small houses in the middle of the valley that are completely alone and they need help.
“It’ll take some time to reach them.”
The national emergency fund has promised 234 million euros in aid to earthquake-stricken towns and villages, the economy ministry said Wednesday.
Residents are evacuated after the earthquake in the region of Umbria, at 3.36am (1.36am GMT).
Rescuers search for victims in Amatrice
Economy Undersecretary Paola De Micheli said in a statement: “We will stand by local institutions and citizens in the coming days both in the acute emergency phase and in the reconstruction to follow.”
“We want residents in areas that are now under rubble to know that we have the resources and the experience to intervene, overcome the emergency, and make a fresh start.”
L’Aquila Mayor Massimo Cialente said 250 temporary homes built after the 2009 earthquake were available for the newly displaced.
The Rieti provincial chapter of Italian blood donation charity AVIS has also put out a call for people to donate blood for the injured.
Earthquake in Italy
A bloodied survivor is seen covered in debris after being pulled from the rubble
A refuge on the Gran Sasso mountain, a popular area for hikers and climbers, said on its Facebook page that a large piece of rock had collapsed in Wednesday’s quake.
Pope Francis told a crowd of tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, in the Vatican, today that he was saddened by the earthquake.
He cancelled a speech he was to have given at his general audience and instead prayed with the crowd for victims and survivors.
Speaking to the crowd, he said: “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.”
A destroyed house is seen following a quake in Amatrice
People have been left devastated by the earthquake
The Italian earthquake institute (INGV) reported 60 aftershocks in the four hours following the initial quake, the strongest measuring 5.5. It measured the original quake at 6.0.
Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.
The last major earthquake to hit the country struck the central city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing more than 300 people.
The most deadly since the start of the 20th century came in 1908, when an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people in the southern regions of Reggio.
Source : mirror.co.uk
Photo credit : Getty and Reuters
“Please like and share to your friends.”