Aftershocks and rescue efforts continue in Italy today after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck just after 3:30am local time in the Umbria region. The epicenter was reportedly located about 6.5 miles southeast of the town of Norcia, near Perugia The quake was followed by a large 5.5-magnitude tremor at about 4:30am. More than 70 people are reported dead and hundreds injured, and survivors and bodies are still being pulled from the rubble of several towns. Also hard hit were the regions of Lazio and Marche, some 80 to 100 miles north of Rome. As rescue team using bulldozers and their bare hands dig through piles of rubble, local authorities warn the death toll is likely to rise.
The mayor of Amatrice said “Half the town no longer exists”. Sergio Perozzi said authorities there believe many are still trapped alive. The village of Pescara del Tronto was all but destroyed, according to witnesses. In several cases, hospitals were so heavily damaged that victims were being treated in the streets in front of the remains of the buildings. In the town of Ascoli police said they could hear the cries of trapped victims under the rubble, but lacked the heavy equipment to dig them out, due to roads into the area being destroyed.
National emergency procedures were activated overnight, and with daylight, rescue teams and equipment are out in full force to rescue as many victims as possible