A strong earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, collapsing homes on top of residents as they slept. At least 38 people were reported dead in several hard-hit towns where rescue crews raced to dig out survivors from the rubble.
"Everything is destroyed, there is no town anymore," said Sabrina Fantauzzi, who spoke to CBC News from Illica, one of the towns hit by the quake.
She was sleeping at home when the magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time.
"I've been very lucky," she said through tears.
There were 60 reported aftershocks in the hours following the initial quake, the strongest measuring 5.5, the Italian seismic office said.
The epicentre was at Norcia, about 170 kilometres northeast of Rome, and the quake had a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers.
"Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life," said Accumoli mayor Stefano Petrucci.
He said more than 2,500 people in the town have been displaced.
- "Three quarters of the town is not there anymore," Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi said. "The aim now is to save as many lives as possible.
- There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there."
- He said rescue teams are trying to reach all 69 hamlets around his central Italian town and that so far 17 deaths have been confirmed in Amatrice alone.
- The hospital in Amatrice was badly damaged by the quake, with patients moved into the streets.
The centre of Amatrice was devastated, with entire palazzos razed. Dazed residents huddled in the public square as the aftershocks continued.
"The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me," marvelled resident Maria Gianni.
"I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn't hit luckily, just slightly injured my leg."
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