Death toll in Italian earthquake rises to 247, officials say

 
Caitlin Morrison
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ITALY-QUAKE
Emergency services have been searching the rubble over the last 24 hours (Source: Getty)

The number of people killed in the earthquake that devastated parts of central Italy on Wednesday rose to 247 this morning, officials have said.

The Civil Protection department in Rome said a tally by local officials showed that 190 people were killed Rieti province and 57 in the province of Ascoli Piceno.

The 6.2 magnitude quake struck at 3:36am local time on Wednesday, 65 miles north-east of Rome.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the Cabinet will meet today to decide on measures to help the affected communities. He told reporters last night: "Today is a day for tears, tomorrow we can talk of reconstruction."

Most of the damage done by the earthquake was in the Lazio and Marche regions, with Lazio bearing the brunt of the damage and the biggest toll. Neighbouring Umbria was also affected. All three regions are dotted with centuries-old buildings susceptible to earthquakes.

Italy's earthquake institute, INGV, said the epicentre was near Accumoli and Amatrice, which lie between the larger towns of Ascoli Piceno to the northeast and Rieti to the southwest.

It was relatively shallow at 4 km (2.5 miles) below the earth's surface. INGV reported 150 aftershocks in the 12 hours following the initial quake, the strongest measuring 5.5.

Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.