Number of dead in Italy quake climbs, first funerals to be held

The death toll from an earthquake that flattened parts of central Italy rose to 267 on Friday as rescue workers pulled more bodies from mounds of debris and families prepared to hold the first funerals. The civil protection department in Rome said nearly 400 people were being treated for injuries in hospitals, and local media reports said about 40 of them were in critical condition. The earth continued to tremble with aftershocks, with survivors sleeping for the second night in tents set up by emergency services.
“It was quite a tough night because you have a significant change in temperature here. During the day, it is very, very hot and at night it is very, very cold,” said Anna Maria Ciuccarelli of Arquata del Tronto. “There are still aftershocks preceded by booms and, for those of us who have just lived through an earthquake, it has a great effect, particularly psychologically,” she said. About 2,500 people were left homeless by Wednesday’s 6.2 magnitude quake and the government has promised to rebuild the devastated communities. More than 920 aftershocks have hit the area around Amatrice and the nearby towns of Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli. Nearly 60 of them have struck since midnight. Families prepared to bury their dead, with the first funeral set for Friday morning in Rome for Marco Santarelli, the 28-year-old son of a senior state official, who died in the family’s holiday home in Amatrice.
“I cannot find the words to describe the grief of a father who outlives his own children. Perhaps there are no words,” Marco’s father, Filippo Santarelli, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. The funeral of two children and their grandparents who died in Pescara del Tronto originally set for Friday was put back until Saturday and will be attended by Italy’s president.
The search for survivors continued during the night in Amatrice, where 207 people are known to have died, as emergency workers with sniffer dogs clambered over piles of debris trying to find anyone still trapped under the rubble.
In other towns and villages the rescue operation wound down. “We have removed the last bodies that we knew about,” said Paolo Cortelli, a member of the Alpine Rescue national service who helped to recover about 30 bodies from Pescara del Tronto.

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