Rescuers are searching for survivors after an earthquake struck Italy early Wednesday, killing at least 38 people and leaving dozens more injured.
A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit at 3:36 a.m. and was followed by a 5.5-magnitude aftershock at 4:33 a.m.
Umbria, Lazio and Marche were the towns that were hit the hardest, but the shake could be felt “as far away as Bologna in the north and Naples in the south,” the New York Times reports.
Italian officials said the ground continued to reverberate throughout the night.
Authorities said they could hear the cries of people who were lodged underneath the rubble, but lacked the heavy equipment needed to move the large rocks, USA Today reports. They fear the death toll will climb because dozens more people are missing.
“Half the town no longer exists,” the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, said. “The historic center of the town, with buildings dating to the Middle Ages, had been destroyed.
Pirozzi added that rescuers are searching through rubble “hoping that most people were alive.”
“The problem is removing people from under the rubble.”
(Photo: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Amatrice, a city voted last year as one of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns, was destroyed by the earthquake.
“It’s all young people here,” Giancarlo, an Amatrice resident who was sitting in the road wearing only underwear, told Reuters. “It’s holiday season, the town festival was to have been held the day after tomorrow so lots of people came for that.”
“It’s terrible, I’m 65-years-old and I have never experienced anything like this. Small tremors, yes, but nothing this big.”
“This is a catastrophe.”
More details to come.