Rescuers recover a victim from a crumbled building in Amatrice, central Italy. Picture: AP.Source:AP
According to the mayor, a family of four has been found dead under the debris of a collapsed building.
“Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children,” Mr Petrucci said.
The worst damage was suffered by Pescara del Tronto, a hamlet near Arquata in the Marche region which civil protection workers described as having been virtually razed.
Ten bodies had been recovered there by midmorning. Among them, an elderly couple killed as their home collapsed.
The death toll, currently at 21, is expected to rise as rescue crews reach homes in harder-to-reach hamlets. Many people are reportedly missing.
A 6.2-magnitude deadly earthquake has devastated dozens of mountain villages in central Italy. Picture: AFP / Filippo MonteforteSource:AFP
Aleandro Petrucci, the mayor of Arquata, said Pescara had “just completely disintegrated.”
The city of Amatrice, near the epicentre, was reportedly also “destroyed”.
Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi said “half of the city disappeared”. Rocks and metal tumbled onto the streets and dazed residents huddled in piazzas as aftershocks continued into the early morning hours.
Amatrice resident Maria Gianni said her “whole ceiling fell but did not hit me”.
“I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn’t hit luckily, just slightly injured my leg.”
Another woman, sitting in front of her destroyed home with a blanket over her shoulders, said she didn’t know what had come of her loved ones.
“It was one of the most beautiful towns of Italy and now there’s nothing left,” she said, too distraught to give her name. “I don’t know what we’ll do.”
According to Reuters, the town’s hospital had been badly damaged by the quake, with patients moved into the streets.
Mr Pirozzi said the quake was a “tragedy” and that some of his constituents are trapped under the rubble.
“The town doesn’t exist anymore,” Mr Pirozzi said.
“The ancient doors have come down. We need help from the civic protection.
“It’s all rubble, it’s a tragedy.
“The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there.”
A man reacts after a deadly earthquake hit Amatrice, Italy. Picture: AFP / Filippo Monteforte.Source:AFP
Amatrice was packed with visitors at the peak of the summer season when the quake struck, destroying the picturesque hilltop village’s main street. Amatrice is famous in Italy as a beauty spot and is a popular holiday destination for Romans seeking cool mountain air at the height of the summer.
Resident search for victims in the rubble after a strong heartquake hit Amatrice in Central Italy. Picture: AFP / Filippo Monteforte.Source:AFP
Witnesses told Italian media that many buildings had collapsed in villages close to the epicentre of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria.
People reportedly ran into streets in central Umbria and Le Marche, according to state-run RAI radio.
Flavio Maccarone, 35, of the Ascoli Piceno province, told news.com.au the “aftershocks keep going so we are outside praying that it stops soon”.
“We feel terrified,” Mr Maccarone said.
“It feels like we are experiencing again the Perugia quake in 1997 or the Aquila quake in 2009.
“It never ends. We cannot sleep in peace. We are trying to stay calm but it is hard. Our poor people and all our history is damaged.
“You can’t control it. There is nothing you can do. We feel hopeless. The quake affected such a wide area it is hard to send targeted help.”
Rescuers search for victims among the rubble of a house. Picture: Filippo Monteforte.Source:AFP
Mr Maccarone said he had fears for his friend in Amatrice, a mountain village in neighbouring Lazio, with a population of just a few thousand people. The village was packed with visitors at the peak of the summer season.
“I keep calling him but he is not answering. I hope it is just a bad signal,” Mr Maccarone said.
“Half the country needs help … how do you do that?”
A woman, whose fate is unknown, is carried away by rescuers after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy.Source:AFP
As dawn broke, residents with shovels and emergency workers with bulldozers were beginning to try to reach people trapped under the debris and clear blocked roads.
The Repubblica newspaper reported that at least one bridge had collapsed, making access for emergency services difficult.
The AGI news agency reported there was “a landslide on one road (and) a bridge is about to collapse on the other one”.
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has caused widespread destruction in central Italy.Source:Supplied
Mr Pirozzi said the access roads to the town “are isolated”.
“I’ve issued an appeal to free up the roads,” he said.
“Half the village is no more, we have people buried under the rubble. I fear they are dead. We have room for rescue helicopters but the priority is to clear the streets. We are working without lights”.
Rescuers carry a man from the rubble after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy. Picture: AFP / Filippo Monteforte.Source:AFP
Alessandro Mazzilli, of the Alpine emergency service of Rieti, said: “There are problems in Amatrice, we are heading that way.”
“Apparently houses have collapsed now, but I am not there yet so can’t confirm,” he said.
“The quake has been felt throughout the whole of central Italy — even in the Adriatic Sea.”
Pope Francis interrupted his weekly audience in St Peter’s square to express his shock at the news.
“To hear the mayor of Amatrice say his village no longer exists and knowing that there are children among the victims, is very upsetting for me,” he said.
Social media users have taken to Twitter to post photos of the devastation.