“The town is no more,” uttered Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice, Italy–a central Italy town now crumbled and barely recognizable.
It was at around Wedmesday morning at 3:30 a.m. local time that the first 6.2 earthquake struck in the mountains of the Umbria and Perugia provinces–a quake so strong that it could be felt 100 miles away in Rome, providing a prelude to the violent aftershocks that were to follow.
In addition to Amatrice, other cities affected in a devastating manner include Pescara del Tronto and Accumoli, where emergency crews were all dispatched in an effort to clear rubble and debris to find survivors.
“Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared, with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life,” Mayor Stefano Petrucci of Accumoli said as he spoke with Reuters.
By dawn, the death toll had risen to at least 37, including a family of four who died when a building in Accumoli collapsed on top of them. As rescue workers continue to work through, this number is expected to rise.
“The biggest problem at the moment is logistic problems because it’s in central Italy, with really small villages. Now the biggest challenge is to reach all of them,” said Tommaso Della Longa of the Red Cross.
The Italian Earthquake Institue recorded at least 60 spectate aftershocks following the initial quake, with many of them ranging from 4.4 magnitude to 5.5.
This devastating tragedy comes 7 years after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Central Italy, killing 300, and sending six scientists and one government official to court on charges of manslaughter after they failed to tell the public about the impending risk of a major earthquake following a string of low-magnitude ones.
Currently, Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in all of Europe. It’s latest quake happened along a fault line situated in the central Apennines Mountains.