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Death toll rises to 281, foreigners among dead in Italy


08-27-2016 10:38 BJT

A national mourning has begun for the victims in a powerful earthquake in central Italy. The death toll from Wednesday's magnitude 6 point 0 earthquake climbs to 281.

The death toll from Wednesday

The death toll from Wednesday's magnitude 6 point 0 earthquake climbs to 281.

According to the country's civil protection department, a further three hundred and eighty-eight people have been hospitalized, with 40 of them in a critical condition. An estimated 2,500 people have been left homeless in what was the most deadly quake in Italy since 2009. Thirteen foreigners are among the identified victims, including six Romanians and three British holidaymakers.

Rescuers continue to scour the town of Amatrice which was levelled in the disaster, but little signs of life have been spotted. 

Rescue efforts in the tiny hilltop town of Amatrice are becoming increasingly complicated

More than 1,000 aftershocks have hit the area since Wednesday's quake.

On Friday morning one with a magnitude of 4.7 damaged key routes into the town, making access by road almost impossible.

"This morning with the last quake the bridge seriously collapsed. The street at the top of the village is also temporarily closed so we are completely isolated. All the engineers and the civil protection workers and the army are now working to restore at least one route," said Valerio Checchi, Forestry Service Guard.

Italy declared a state of emergency in the region. A civil protection teams resorted to bringing supplies into the quake hit town on foot.

An estimated 2,500 people have been left homeless by the deadly quake. And the town, just last year voted one of the most beautiful in Italy, now lies in ruins. Residents have been returning to pick up possessions.  

I met Claudio who told me how he and his wife survived the quake but he came back today to collect a missing family member.

"I thought the dog was underneath the ruins. But this morning they called me, because he has the microchip and they told me 'look, someone found your dog'," said Claudio.

"Did you manage to retrieve any more of your possessions "

 "Nothing. Only the pajamas I was wearing, nothing else. No slippers, no shoes. Everything is underneath the ruins. I don't have documents. I don't have money. I don't have my bank card, my credit cards. Nothing. Now we try to understand how to solve this situation that's all. Anyway. We try to go on," he said.

But for the evacuated residents, rebuilding their lives will not be easy. They will likely spend months, maybe even years in temporary accommodation and while the government has promised to rebuild the region it's hard to imagine how the historic towns and villages flattened by Wednesday's quake will ever be the same. 

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