The death toll from a strong earthquake in central Italy has climbed to at least 250 as thousands of rescuers continued efforts to find survivors under the rubble of flattened towns.
Italy’s civil protection agency said more than 360 people were hospitalized after the 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck early on August 24 northeast of Rome, causing extensive damage to the towns of Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta, and Arquata del Tronto.
Some 5,000 people, including police, firefighters, army troops, and volunteers are combing through rubble for survivors using heavy machinery or bare hands.
Many people are still believed to be buried under rubble, and many of the missing are foreigners and vacationers visiting the historic region.
"This is not a final toll," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned on August 24 as rescue teams worked through the night to try to find survivors. "It is a pain without limits."
Renzi promised "no family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind."
"The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone," Sergio Pirozzi, mayor of Amatrice, said. "There are people under the rubble...There's been a landslide and a bridge might collapse."
One focus of the medieval town's fears was the historic Hotel Roma, which collapsed with some 35 guests inside. So far only seven bodies have been recovered.
In 2009, a 5.9 magnitude quake killed 309 people in L’Aquila.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa