Life&Culture

Italian quake death toll rises to 290

Italian quake death toll rises to 290

Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole held a funeral Mass in the town of Ascoli Piceno for 35 of the 290 victims.

Mourners pay their respects as they attend a funeral for the natural disaster victims inside a gym in Ascoli Piceno August 27, 2016.

The coffins, laid out in rows on the floor, include two painted white for two children killed.

Six more bodies were recovered from the rubble of Amatrice, increasing the death toll in the worst-hit town to 230, while the number of victims in Accumoli and Arquato del Tronto remained 11 and 49 respectively.

In addition to emergency funds, Prime Minister Renzi cancelled taxes for residents and announced a new initiative, "Italian Homes", to tackle criticism over shoddy construction.

Most victims of the quake were Italian, but several foreigners were among those killed.

"We will still use thermal devices that can detect the presence of human bodies." said Checchi.

Across the area, a cool retreat for those seeking to escape Italy's hot summers, numerous dead were children and elderly people, some of them visiting grandparents before school resumed.

The first private funeral took place in Rome on Friday for the son of a provincial police chief who was honored at one of Rome's most important basilicas.

People attend a funeral service in Ascoli Piceno for victims of the quake. "I am eternally grateful, they have saved hundreds of lives".

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'What happened can not just be considered fate, ' said prosecutor Giuseppe Saieva, who is leading the probe.

Firefighters inspect damaged houses following an natural disaster in Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 26, 2016.

Most of the buildings in the quake zone had no anti-seismic protection, but even some of those that did, including a school in Amatrice that was renovated in 2012, fell apart.

The Italian government also declared Saturday a day of national mourning and scheduled a state funeral to be attended by President Sergio Mattarella. 'If these buildings had been constructed like they are in Japan then they would not have collapsed, ' he told la Repubblica newspaper.

'What we need is a reconstruction in record time.

The president had earlier paid tribute to the "extraordinary effort" of more than 4,000 rescue professionals and volunteers on a brief visit to Amatrice, the small mountain town hit hardest by the quake. And the Italian prosecutor in charge of the quake investigation said what happened can't simply be chalked up to nature.

More aftershocks were registered in Italy in the early hours of Saturday, the strongest with a magnitude of four.

Mattarella was guided by town mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, who showed him the extent of the damage.

As powerful aftershocks closed winding mountain roads and made life unsafe for more than 4,000 professionals and volunteers engaged in the rescue effort, survivors voiced dazed bewilderment over the scale of the disaster that struck their sleepy communities.

Once that is over, the government and local authorities will face intense scrutiny over why so many people died, just seven years after an quake in the nearby city of L'Aquila left more than 300 people dead.


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