Rescuers continued to search for survivors in central Italian towns devastated by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake as the number of victims rose to 247 on Thursday morning. Accounts of lucky escapes and tragedies have emerged as communities struggle to cope with the aftermath.
Italy's earthquake death toll has climbed to 247, local wire service ANSA quoted regional officials as saying.
Meanwhile, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre [EMSC] reported yet another 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit central Italy, some 66 km northeast from the town of Terni, with a population of over 220,000 people. It was the 22nd quake in the region in less than 24 hours.
The dramatic rescue operation continued overnight into the early hours of Thursday as scores of people are still believed trapped under the rubble. Thousands have been left homeless.
At least 86 victims come from the small towns of Amatrice and Accumoli that lie close to the epicenter of the quake, about 100 km from Rome.
The rescue units have been joined by hundreds of volunteers who are trying to pull out survivors.
However, the hopes of finding survivors have been diminishing with every hour.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called on his fellow citizens to unite in the face of the tragedy, as he visited the most heavily stricken area.
In the wake of the disaster, Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said that the town "wasn't there anymore."
Tents have been erected for hundreds of the now homeless residents, which will serve as temporary shelters.
Many of the casualties from the quake are believed to be children, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said after visiting the area.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team