Rescue teams searching for survivors have found a child buried in the wreckage of a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy earlier on Wednesday (24 August). As the sun began to set across Pescara del Tronto Province, two women shouted in the street: "She's alive!"
Chief firefighter Danilo Dionesi confirmed that the young girl was rescued and taken to a nearby hospital. He gave no further information on her injuries or condition, according to the Associated Press. The death toll from the devastating quake has risen to 247, Reuters reported citing Italy's regional officials.
Italy's health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said that many of the victims were children, but did not give specific numbers on the dead and wounded. She praised the rescue operation but added:"Sadly we are used to this phenomenon."
CNN said it witnessed local residents clawing at rubble with their bare hands to sort through the wreckage of a two-storey house, looking for their neighbours.
Tractors and hand tools are being used to hack into the old stone villas as modern lifting equipment cannot yet reach the remote villages, which are accessible along narrow, winding roads. Helicopters were used to ferry away survivors from more isolated villages to safety.
"I was blown away by what I saw. We haven't stopped digging all day," said Marcello di Marco, a farmer who came from Narni around 100 km away to assist with the rescue efforts in Pescara del Tronto.
A family of four, including two boys aged 8 months and 9 years, were buried when their house collapsed, according to a report by Reuters. Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for national unity. "We Italians are very good at arguing and being polemical but now let's stand in solidarity and pride alongside those who are rescuing others."
The Treasury released 235m euros (£200m) of emergency funds, while Pope Francis sent part of the Holy See's firefighting force to help in the rescue.