Rescuers believe they have located more bodies in the ruined town of Amatrice, five days after a devastating earthquake in central Italy killed at least 290 people.
Residents of the hill town estimated that more than 10 people were still unaccounted for, with emergency services saying they had located three corpses in Amatrice’s Hotel Roma, which was wrecked by Wednesday’s quake.
Deputy Mayor Gianluca Carloni said his uncle’s body had not been retrieved yet from the hotel, which was particularly busy at this time of year because of a food festival.
“It is absolutely vital to finish as soon as possible this initial (search) phase to make sure that there are no more bodies under the rubble,” he said.
In the early hours of August 24, a powerful earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Italy, and almost flattened scores of towns and villages in the central parts. The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, the strongest of which measured 4.2, rattling the already hit areas.
Pope Francis, who led prayers for the dead in his weekly address in St Peter’s Square in Rome on Sunday, said he wanted to visit the quake-hit villages “as soon as possible” to bring comfort to the survivors.
Firefighters help residents recover their personal belongings from damaged houses in the village of Rio on August 28, 2016. ©AFP
Museums across Italy donated proceeds from Sunday’s ticket sales to help reconstruction efforts and soccer teams held a minute’s silence before their weekend matches in tribute to the quake victims.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi joined hundreds of mourners at the first funeral for some 40 victims of the quake at a community gymnasium in the town of Ascoli Piceno, the capital of March region, on Saturday.
The country observed a national day of mourning Saturday.
The 2,000-population town of Amatrice is now in ruins with only a few buildings left standing.
In 2009, Aquila in central Italy was jolted by a 6.3-magnitude quake. Over 300 people died in the natural disaster
Two other tremors also jolted the northern region of Emilia Romagna in May 2012, leaving nearly two dozen people dead and some 14,000 others homeless.