Rescuers battle as Italy death toll reaches 247

Aug 25, 2016, 2:34 AM EDT
2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Abruzzi, Italy
(Source: Alessandro Giangiulio/flickr)

The devastating earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday has claimed more than 247 lives even as rescuers dig through rubble in search of survivors trapped under collapsed structures. More than 4,300 rescuers continued the rescue operation through the night as dozens are believed to be trapped in ruined Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, in mountainous central Italy.

According to the Civil Protection Agency, more than 1,000 people have been displaced by the 6.2-magnitude quake, reports CNN. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited some of the affected areas and assured the people that the government will leave no stone unturned to save lives in the “critical window” following the earthquake.

Renzi said, “Right now we feel terrible pain. Italy is a family that has been hit and struck, but we are not going to be stopped.” The White House issued a press release late on Wednesday, informing that U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the efforts by first responders and volunteers and assured all the assistance needed during the difficult time, notes The Guardian.

The health minister warned that the number of fatalities could rise further, writes the BBC. A strong aftershock of 4.7-magnitude with its epicenter 7km east of Norcia struck the already damaged buildings during night. Amatrice is one of the worst hit towns, with three-quarter of it completely destroyed and no building safe for habitation.