UPDATE: 6:11 a.m. EDT — Italian officials said about 40 strong quakes were reported over a stretch of three hours, New York Times reported. Wednesday’s earthquake in central Italy claimed the lives of at least 38 people and damaged several towns and villages, according to the authorities.
In a televised address, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would visit the affected areas later in the day.
UPDATE: 5:43 a.m. EDT — At least 37 people have died after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake that shook central Italy early Wednesday, spokeswoman for the national civil protection said, according to reports.
#BREAKING Italy earthquake: 37 dead according to first official toll
— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 24, 2016
UPDATE: 3:51 a.m. EDT — The death toll in the earthquake that rattled central Italy early Wednesday has risen to at least 18, Agence-France Presse reported, citing officials.
UPDATE: 3:09 a.m. EDT — At least 10 people have been confirmed dead in central Italy following a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, both Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters reported, citing local media.
The deaths were reported in the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto, according to AFP. Several towns and villages were affected by the quake, however, it did not appear to have affected the populated areas of the region, Reuters reported.
Italy’s civil protection agency said due to rescue operations it could not provide an official death toll.
UPDATE: 1:15 a.m. EDT — The death toll following the earthquake in central Italy rose to at least six after ANSA news agency reported that two bodies were pulled out from debris in Amatrice — one of the towns badly affected in the quake.
A 6.2-magnitude earthquake rattled central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least four people, the country’s state broadcaster said. The quake hit southeast of Norcia town in Perugia province with a depth of 6.2 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The epicenter of the quake was Rieti, about 50 miles north of Rome, and strong tremors were felt across large parts of central Italy. Stefano Petrucci, mayor of Accumoli in Rieti, said four people were killed in the earthquake.
"Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children," Petrucci reportedly said.
Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice with a reported population of 2,730 in 2008, told state-run RAI radio and Sky TG24 that the town needed heavy equipment to remove debris from streets in order to reach those injured.“Look there are houses that aren’t here anymore. I hope we get some help,” Pirozzi reportedly said, when asked if there were any fatalities.
“The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone,” Pirozzi reportedly said, adding, “There are people under the rubble... There's been a landslide and a bridge might collapse."
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said that the quake was “severe” and damage was reported in several areas, according to Reuters. Towns that are believed to have been badly affected are Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto, fire department spokesman Luca Cari told the news agency.
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy killing over 300 people. Following this, in May 2012, two quakes hit the northern Emilia Romagna leaving 23 people dead and 14,000 others homeless.