Italy Earthquake: At Least 247 Reported Dead, Rescue Operations Underway

At least 247 were reported dead on Thursday by the officials at Italy’s Civil Protection Department after a devastating earthquake of 6.2-magnitude on the Ritcher scale struck central Italy on Wednesday. Of the 247 killed in the earthquake, 190 deaths were in the Rieti province and 57 in the neighboring province of Ascoli Piceno. Furthermore, at least 53 were found dead, and at least 100 injured, in the town of Amatrice. Sadly, most of Amatrice, a prehistoric town, is now in ruble and covered in gray dust.

Even as we report the number of deaths in the Italy earthquake, almost 4,300 people are currently involved in rescue operations. They are using heavy lifting equipment and their bare hands to pull out people trapped inside the rubble. CNN reports:

“In the small Italian towns hit hard by a magnitude-6.2 earthquake that struck in the middle of the night, rescuers feverishly dug through the rubble of downed homes and apartments looking for survivors.”

One such rescue operation that was heavily televised was that of a young girl who was pulled out of the rubble after being trapped for almost 17 hours. A firefighter in Amatrice dug through the rubble, as he pulled back bricks, to get the young girl — approximately eight-years-old — out. The entire crowd had burst out into cheers. The CNN report states that it was impossible to tell what color clothes the girl was wearing because she was covered entirely in gray dust.

Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake In Central Italy Kill At Least 37 [Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images]Rescuers had also pulled out five bodies from the ruins of Hotel Roma in Amatrice. About 35 people had been staying in the hotel when the earthquake struck and most had managed to get out. A local fire official told BBC that about 10 people are still unaccounted for. Many people were in Amatrice for a vacation to celebrate a famous local festival. The Civil Protection Department also said that no survivors will be allowed to sleep in Amatrice. In fact, the mayor of Amatrice said that almost three-quarters of the city was ravaged by the earthquake and none of the buildings in the town were safe for habitation.

“The town is no more,” said Pirozzi.

In other quake-affected regions, people stayed in tents all through the night.

One of the victims of the earthquake was an 18-month-old baby, Marisol Piermarini, whose mother Martina Turco had actually survived the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy. Ms Turco is actually being treated at a hospital in the village of Arquata del Tronto.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi toured some of the affected areas and said, “Right now we feel terrible pain. Italy is a family that has been hit and struck, but we are not going to be stopped.”

Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake Hits Central Italy [Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]“In difficult times, Italy knows what to do,” he added. Unfortunately, the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers dig through more rubble. Also, regular aftershocks in the region pose a continuous threat.

Some of the locations affected by the earthquake are finding it hard to carry out rescue operations. For example, in the village of Saletta, which has only around 20 people, some of the residents who managed to survive, used their bare hands through the rubble in desperate search of neighbors. In fact, CNN’s Barbie Nadeau and her crew narrowly escaped as a home collapsed behind her in Saletta. She was conducting a Facebook Live session.

Moreover, many small settlements are only accessible by small roads. This is proving to be challenging for officials to move heavy machinery to the quake-struck areas.

The intensity of the earthquake was such that tremors were felt as far away as Rome, 100 miles from the epicenter. “It lasted for at least 30 seconds. The entire hotel was shaking. It was pretty terrifying.” said Charlotte Smith, coach of Elon University women’s basketball team, North Carolina. She was in Rome with her players when the quake hit and now they are headed back.

[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]