At least 247 people were killed after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy Wednesday, according to Italy’s Civil Protection Department.
The powerful earthquake hit 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southeast of Norcia at 3:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. Tuesday ET).
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said of the people killed in the quake, at least 53 of them were in the town of Amatrice, and at least 100 people were injured. Other fatalities were reported in the nearby towns of Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto.
More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the quake, and the Civil Protection agency said no residents will be allowed to sleep in the devastated town of Amatrice Wednesday night.
There were cheers in the village of Pescara del Tronto when an eight-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours.
Earlier, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned the toll could rise as he visited the area.
He had previously paid tribute to the volunteers and civil defence officials who rushed to the scene in the middle of the night and used their bare hands to dig for survivors.
He promised “no family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind”.
Dozens are believed trapped in ruined Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, in mountainous central Italy.
The search went on through the night, and there was a strong aftershock which rocked already damaged buildings.
More than 4,300 rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment and their bare hands.
Many of the victims were children, the health minister said, and there were warnings the toll could rise further.
Rescuers said they had pulled five bodies from the ruins of the Hotel Roma in the historic town of Amatrice. As many as 70 tourists were staying at the hotel when the quake struck. Many are feared to be in the rubble, though several were pulled out and given medical care.