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Italy hit by large-scale earthquake, at least 247 dead

Rescuers search a crumbled building in Arcuata del Tronto, central Italy, where a 6.1 earthquake struck just after 3:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The quake was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic center felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude between 6.0 and 6.2 has rattled central Italy, according to the United States Geological survey.

Italian authorities say that the death toll from Wednesday’s earthquake in the central part of the country has risen to 247.

The civil protection agency gave the updated figure early Thursday, about 27 hours after the earthquake struck. The tremors reduced three towns to rubble and sparked urgent search efforts.

Rescuers have pulled dozens of people young and old from the rubble of Italy’s powerful earthquake, while trying to keep some victims calm as they waited to be pulled to safety.

The mayor of the quake-hit town of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, said a family of four had been located under the debris of a collapsed building but there were no signs of life.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi planned to head to the zone later Wednesday and promised the area, which has suffered quakes many times before: “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind.”

The mayor of Amatrice, near Rieti, Sergio Perozzi, told state-run RAI radio that there were downed buildings in the city center and that the lights had gone out. He said he was unable to get in touch with emergency responders or reach the hospital.

“The town isn’t here anymore,” Pirozzi said. “I believe the toll will rise.”

The U.S. Geological Survey put the epicenter at Norcia, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) northeast of Rome, and with a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). The hardest-hit towns were reported as Amatrice, Accumoli and Norcia, with residents running into the streets as aftershocks continued into the early morning hours.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded at least eight earthquakes within hours of the initial quake.

In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the same region and killed more than 300 people. The earlier earthquake struck L’Aquila in central Italy, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the latest quake.

The quake on Monday was felt in central Rome, as people in homes in the city’s historic center felt a long swaying.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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