Italy earthquake: Prime minister Matteo Renzi declares 'state of emergency' as death toll rises to 267

'We owe it to the history of those towns that they must have a future and not remain just a memory,' says the Italian premier

Jess Staufenberg
Friday 26 August 2016 09:27
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Drone footage reveals extent of Italy earthquake damage

The Italian prime minister has declared a state of emergency following the devastating earthquake which has now claimed more than 260 lives.

Matteo Renzi authorised special measures and millions of euros of funding for the areas close to Rome devastated by the tremors and waves of about 1,000 aftershocks.

In one of the worst natural disasters in the country's history, the death toll has now reached 267 people, with at least 365 others injured.

About 215 people have been rescued since emergency teams began work following the 6.2 magnitude quake which hit on 24 August in towns about 140km (85 miles) east of Rome.

Now Mr Renzi has signed off €50 million of crisis funds for the affected areas, as well as offered to cancel taxes for residents.

"We must think of the reconstruction. We have a moral commitment with the men and women of those communities," he said, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"We have a duty to those communities that they remain community. We owe it to the history of those towns that they must have a future and not remain just a memory."

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi

Nearly 1,000 aftershocks have rocked the seismic area of Italy's central Apennine Mountains in the two days since the original quake. The biggest aftershock struck with a strength of 4.7, according to the US Geological Service.

Crumbled buildings suffered yet more cracks when the aftershock hit. Since the last person pulled alive from the rubble was found one-and-a-half days ago, ongoing rescue teams say they have less hope of finding anyone alive now.

Three Britons are among the dead from the initial earthquake, including two adults who owned an apartment in the village of Sommati, just outside the badly-affected town of Amatrice. The pair reportedly left behind two children. The teenage son of a family staying with the couple was also killed.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said other Britons affected by the earthquake would receive assistance from Foreign Office staff sent out to the crisis.

Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. The earthquake caused damage in three regions - Umbria, Lazio and Marche - and was felt as far away as the southern Italian port city of Naples.

Amatrice, which was voted one of Italy's most beautiful historic towns last year, was shown in aerial photographs to be mostly flattened.

A collective project called Italian Homes will also seek to build residencies in future which will be safe in the event of other earthquakes, said Mr Renzi.

Additional reporting from Associated Press

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