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Italian Earthquake Victims

Nikolai Sorokin / Dollar Photo Club

Italian Earthquake Victims

At least 120 people have died in an earthquake that hit central Italy in the early hours of Aug. 24, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, according to national news agency ANSA. The death toll may rise, as many are unaccounted for amid the devastation left behind.

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake caused severe damage in the regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche, with effects felt as far away as Rome and Naples.

The earthquake's epicenter was in the town of Amatrice. The destruction in that town is so great that its mayor reported, "The town is no more," as he begged for help from rescuers.

Rescue vehicles were attempting to reach towns like Amatrice, which was cut off from the outside world because of damage to roads and a bridge, in the hours following the quake. Other towns with the most severe damage include Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto, and Pescara del Tronto.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed in a brief statement to get each area the help it needed, stating, "No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone."

Pope Francis gathered pilgrims to St. Peter's Square in a prayer vigil for the victims. His remarks included, "I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted."

World leaders in France, Germany, the European Union, and beyond also expressed their dismay and solidarity. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among those who reached out, stating, "I am deeply concerned to learn of the devastating earthquake in central Italy. The images of the devastation are shocking. Given the suffering and massive destruction I would like to express my deepest sympathy on behalf of the German population. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and wish those who are injured a speedy recovery."

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for those in the regions affected by the earthquake to let family and friends know they are safe. The Red Cross requested that people in the region deactivate their Wi-Fi passwords, to make communications easier for rescue workers.

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