Italy Earthquake Destroys Small Towns as Death Toll Rises to 120

Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said, "The town is no more"

Photo: Gregorio Borgia/AP

The tiny Italian town of Amatrice is in ruins as a result of Wednesday’s massive earthquake, and rescue crews are begging for any help they can get to free the dozens believed to be trapped under rubble as officials announce that the death toll has risen to 120.

“The town is no more,” Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told reporters, according to CNN. “I have an appeal to make: we have access roads to the town cut off and people under the rubble, help us.”

The magnitude-6.2 quake hit at about 3:35 a.m. local time about 65 miles from Rome, the BBC reports. The towns hardest hit are Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto and the death toll rose to 120 by the evening, according to the Associated Press.

The Amatrice area received more than a hundred aftershocks and aerial photos of the town show the land reduced to rubble.

“It was one of the most beautiful towns of Italy and now there’s nothing left,” one resident told the AP. “I don’t know what we’ll do.”

Rescue crews used bulldozers and their bare hands in an attempt to free people trapped under the debris. A ranger in Capodacqua worked to keep an 80-year-old woman who was trapped in rubble calm as she begged to use the bathroom.

“Listen, I know it’s not nice to say but if you need to pee you just do it,” he said. “Now I move away a little bit and you do pee, please.”

One survivor described the moments after the quake when many residents frantically called for help. “It looked like Dante’s Inferno,” he told the AP.

A Twitter video of the devastation in Capodacqua shows a woman’s bloodied arm visible through a bevvy of stone, with a rescuer asking if she is able to breath.

Survivors of the deadly quake spoke out in the wake of the disaster, recalling the moments the rumble shook them out of their sleep.

“We were on the second floor of a three-story building. It woke us up, it felt like the bed was on rollers,” Michael Gilroy told CNN. “We all immediately ran out … A couple of us went back in and the ceiling was audibly creaking.”

Another woman told CNN that the quake was so strong she felt her bed moving.

“We woke up with people screaming because they were asking for help,” Eleonora Romandini said.

A CNN reporter in the small town of Accumoli said many are outside of their homes and afraid to go inside for fear of aftershocks.

“A lot of the villages have very ancient buildings,” the reporter said. “Those are made of old stone, brick and mud, so they just fell apart.”

Authorities are doing all they can to rescue survivors and residents and priests have taken to the efforts.

“We need chainsaws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams: everything, we need everything,” civil protections worker Andrea Gentili told the AP.

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