At least 120 people were killed and over 368 injured as earthquake with magnitude of 6.2 struck at 3:36 am Italy on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited the zone Wednesday, greeted rescue teams and survivors warned that “several people have been trapped under rubble and the figure of dead and wounded was expected to rise in the wake of the pre-dawn quake. And this is not a final toll.” He also pledged "No family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind."
Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice said "The town isn't here anymore. I believe the toll will rise." Rescue crews used bulldozers to dig out survivors from a strong earthquake. The temblor shook the Lazio region, Umbria and Le Marche on the Adriatic coast. Dozens of people were pulled out alive by rescue teams and volunteers that poured in from around Italy.
"Unfortunately, 90 per cent we pull out are dead, but some make it, that's why we are here," said Christian Bianchetti, a volunteer from Rieti.
Worst affected were the tiny towns of Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti and Pescara del Tronto.
Italy's health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin also visited the devastated area said “many of the victims were children: The quake zone is a popular spot for Romans with second homes, and the population swells in August when most Italians take their summer holiday before school resumes. The medieval center of Amatrice was devastated, with the hardest-hit half of the city cut off by rescue crews digging by hand to get to trapped residents.”
"The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me," marveled resident Maria Gianni. "I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn't hit, luckily, just slightly injured my leg."
Another woman, sitting in front of her destroyed home with a blanket over her shoulders, said "It was one of the most beautiful towns of Italy and now there's nothing left. I don't know what we'll do."
"We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars and jacks to remove beams. Everything, we need everything," civil protection worker Andrea Gentili told The Associated Press in the early hours of the recovery. Italy's national blood drive association appealed for donations to Rieti's hospital.
"We are waiting for the military," said resident Alessandra Cappellanti. "There is a base in Ascoli, one in Rieti, and in L'Aquila. And we have not seen a single soldier. We pay! It's disgusting!"
Agostino Severo, a Rome resident visiting Illica, said workers eventually arrived after an hour or so. "We came out to the piazza, and it looked like Dante's Inferno," he said. "People crying for help, help."
The US Geological Survey reported the quake's magnitude was 6.2, while the Italian geological service put it at 6 and the European Mediterranean Seismological Center at 6.1. The quake had a shallow depth of between four and 10 kilometers, the agencies said. Generally, shallow earthquakes pack a bigger punch and tend to be more damaging than deeper quakes.
"The Apennine mountains in central Italy have the highest seismic hazard in Western Europe and earthquakes of this magnitude are common," noted Richard Walters, a lecturer in Earth sciences at Durham University in Britain.
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BY M.DIVYA SRI