At least 120 people have been killed and more than 350 injured in an earthquake that hit a mountainous area of central Italy, authorities say.
The magnitude 6.2 quake struck at 3.36am (1.36 GMT) 65 miles north-east of Rome, not far from Perugia.
Many of the dead were in Accumoli, close to the epicentre, and a short distance away in Amatrice, where three-quarters of houses were destroyed.
“The town isn’t here anymore,” said Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice. “I believe the toll will rise.”
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi visited rescue teams and survivors yesterday as he promised that: “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind.”
Mr Renzi paid tribute to the volunteers and civil defence officials who had rushed to the scene in the middle of the night and used their bare hands to dig for survivors. People are still believed buried under the rubble.
Sniffer dogs, earthmovers and other equipment were sent to the area to help with the rescue effort and provide for those left homeless.
Rescue teams poured in from nearby regions, while even the Vatican has sent a rescue crew to the quake zone to help with recovery efforts. The Vatican press office said a six-man team from the Vatican City State’s fire squad was sent to Amatrice.
Pope Francis scrapped his usual Wednesday catechism lesson for pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to lead the faithful instead in reciting the rosary prayer for the victims.
Ryan Sloan, a lawyer from Glasgow, described the moment the earthquake woke him in Rome as the “most terrifying moment” of his life.
He said he woke to a feeling like “someone violently rocking bed”.
Some buildings in the capital shook for 20 seconds as the quake struck the regional border area of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche. It was felt from Bologna in the north of Italy to Naples in the south.
Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said it had recorded more than 200 aftershocks.
Earthquakes are common in Italy.
In 2009, more than 300 people died in L’Aquila and in May 2012 two tremors nine days apart killed more than 20 people in the northern Emilia Romagna region.