At least 37 people have died in the magnitude 6.2 quake that struck central Italy, trapping residents under hills of rubble, Italy’s civil protection agency says.
The quake struck early on Wednesday when most people were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of towns and villages some 140 km (85 miles) east of Rome.
The emergency services released an aerial photograph showing whole areas of the town of Amatrice flattened, while debris filled the streets of nearby Accumoli.
“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,” said Accumoli mayor Stefano Petrucci.
Wide cracks appeared like open wounds on the buildings that were still standing.
Residents sifted through the rubble with their bare hands before emergency services arrived with earth-moving equipment and sniffer dogs.