World / Europe

250 dead, thousands displaced in central Italy's quake

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-26 09:11

250 dead, thousands displaced in central Italy's quake

People are seen preparing to spend the night in a gym following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 25, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - At least 250 people died, and thousands were displaced in Italy, after a major earthquake that struck the central Lazio and Marche regions on early Wednesday, the authorities confirmed on Thursday.

The hardest hit places were the towns of Amatrice and Accumoli in Rieti province, and the villages of Arquata del Tronto and Peschiera del Tronto in Marche region.

Of the total 250 victims confirmed so far, some 193 were in Amatrice, 11 in Accumoli, and 46 in Arquata del Tronto, the civil protection department said.

The number of people injured and hospitalized rose to 365, it added.

The Italian government declared a state of emergency in the affected areas, after holding an emergency meeting on Thursday afternoon.

"The reconstruction of quake-stricken hamlets is a priority, and a moral obligation towards those communities," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told a press conference after the meeting.

The state of emergency will allow allocating an immediate first tranche of 50 million euros (56 million U.S. dollars) to assist those displaced.

On Wednesday, the Economy Ministry had overall pledged 234 million euros (264 million U.S. dollars) from a national emergency fund to help people living in the destroyed towns.

Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan would now provide tax exemption to the families living in the areas.

In Amatrice, Accumoli, and Arquata, rescue teams kept digging for survivors all day long. The 6.0-magnitude temblor that struck on Wednesday at 3:36 a.m. local time (0136 GMT) obliterated most of these centers.

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