Death toll from the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked Central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday has now risen from 21 to 37 and is still expected to rise as rescue efforts are frantically underway in search of survivors still buried underneath the rubble.

According to reports, the quake began at 3:36 a.m., at a time when many were asleep in their homes. As such, most victims were either not unaware of the quake or not able to take cover in time before it hit.

Many witnesses in Rome, about 10 kilometres away from the quake’s epicenter reported feeling the tremors of the quake as it hits the towns, with many aftershocks occurring several hours after the initial quake.

The town of Amatrice was the most affected by the quake with nearby Arquata del Tronto and Lucio regions also taking a big hit.

CNN’s Barbie Nadeau who is at the scene reports that the earth is still moving, “we keep feeling tremor after tremor. You hear rocks falling, but a lot of that is families trying to find their loved ones.

“It’s a really profound thing — you’ve got people out on the streets, crying, holding onto one another, holding their children and possessions, still in their pajamas.”

Most of the rescue efforts were initially conducted by hand because the fallen debris from the quake had made the already narrow roads in the region even narrower for heavy machinery to pass through.

However, recent reports from CNN reveal that about 20 bulldozers and seven helicopters among other rescue materials are being deployed to the region to aid rescue efforts.

While one child is known to be among the dead in Arquata del Tronto, another affected area of the region, two children have been rescued by firefighters.

Most of the buildings in the region are built with stones, making rescue efforts difficult until the arrival of heavy equipment.

Central Italy is frequently visited by tourists from all over the world because of its normally serene environment, history and architecture.

According to Nadeau, many foreigners own summer homes in the region. While the area is a notably popular tourist destination, it is uncertain exactly how many tourists were victims of the quake.

What is, however, certain is that the death toll is expected to rise, especially after a 2009 quake in a nearby area left 295 people dead.


Author: Aderonke Adeleke

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