- Earthquake of magnitude 6.2 struck at 3:36am
- Amatrice and Accumoli, in Lazio, and Arquata and Pescara del Tronto, in Marche, worst affected
- Epicentre in Norcia, near Perugia.
- Lazio region hit the hardest
- Strong aftershocks.
- Tremors felt in Rome.
- Death toll confirmed so far at 247.
- People in the area asked to give blood.
- Hospital in Amatrice collapsed.
The quake occurred at 3.36am, in Norcia, a town south of Perugia, Umbria, and has devastated the towns of Amatrice and Accumuli in the northern Lazio region along with Arquata and Pescara del Tronto, in the eastern region of Marche.
Many thanks for following the blog, but it is now closed. We'll be constantly updating the story throughout the day. Please click on this link for the latest: Italy quake toll hits 247 as rescuers hunt for survivors
Thursday - 7:07am - Death toll rises to 247, officials said.
19:30 - Death toll rises to 120, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said
Some 368 people were injured in the tremor, he said at a press conference in the Rieti region, not far from the epicentre of the 6.0-6.2 magnitude quake.
"This is not a final toll," Renzi added.
18:20 – A long night ahead
While the 2,500 people left homeless by this morning’s earthquake prepare to sleep in makeshift camps and reception centres across the affected area, rescue services and volunteers are preparing to search throughout the night in the hope of finding survivors.
Hope is not lost, after 12 hours trapped among the ruins of his home, a 58-year-old man has been found alive in Amatrice.
It promises to be a long night ahead for all, especially those who still count friends and relatives among the missing.
18:05 – Renzi choppers out of Amatrice
Following a brief 20-minute visit to the devastated town, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has left Amatrice in a helicopter.
Perhaps uncharacteristically, Renzi took no time to make a statement to the press, simply telling journalists “now is not the time to speak,” before boarding his aircraft.
17:55 – Fate of missing child hangs in the balance.
Rescue workers search for those missing in Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
For over an hour, rescue services have been searching a collapsed building in Amatrice in order to try and find an 11-year-old boy missing following this morning’s quake.
“The team have heard a voice calling for help, and are doing their best to try and find him,” a speleologist told La Repubblica.
Reports suggest the trapped child also managed to send an SMS to his father asking for help earlier today, but nothing has been heard from the boy in the last hour and teams of rescuers are yet to locate him among the rubble.
17:45 – Renzi is in Amatrice
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has arrived in Amatrice, one of the towns in northern Lazio worst hit by this morning's earthquake.
Ariel footage shows the town of 2,650 people was razed to the ground and Renzi is currently surveying the damage alongside infrastructure minister Graziano Delrio and Fabrizio Curcio, the head of Italy’s civil protection.
17:27 – Obama offers US support.
La Repubblica reports US President Barack Obama has called Italian president Sergio Mattarella in order to express his condolences following the disaster.
Obama allegedly told Mattarella the USA is ready to offer what help and support it can to Italy.
17:23 – Aftershocks aplenty.
Italy’s National Institute of Geology and Volcanolgy (INGV) say there have been more than 122 tremors registered across the regions of Lazio and Marche in the last nine hours.
17:10 – Italian geologists say more must be done to educate people about the earthquake risk.
According to Francesco Peduto, President of Italy’s National Council of Geologists (GNC), some 24 million Italians – slightly less than half the population - live in regions at risk from seismic tremors.
“We need to launch a series of educational initiatives to teach people what to do when a quake hits,” Peduto said.
“According to studies, between 20 and 50 percent of all deaths are caused because citizens make the wrong decisions,” Peduto added.
16:49 - Merkel 'ready to help' Italy.
Speaking at a press conference in Estonia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has once again stated Germany will offer its support to Italy following the quake.
"We're ready to do everything we can to help and our thoughts today are with people in the affected area," the Chancellor said.
16:40 – Family killed by falling bell tower.
Andrea Tuccio, his wife Graziella and their sons Riccardo and Stefano, were killed as the recently restored bell tower of Accumoli’s church fell onto their family home in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“The restoration was worthless,” Accumoli mayor Stefano Petrucci told Italian media. “Had the scaffolding still been supporting the tower, it probably wouldn’t have collapsed.”
16.25 - Heritage sites badly damaged.
Two of Amatrice’s most important historical sites have partially collapsed after sustaining heavy damage in the quake, according to Italy's Culture Ministry.
The once-impressive dome of the 13th century Basilica of San Francesco has caved in completely. The church is noted for its impressive series of 14th century frescoes.
Also badly damaged is the 14th century church of Sant’Agostino, which is located near the town's historic walls. The church was famed for its Gothic doorway.
16.01 - The latest official death doll is 73.
Immacolata Postiglione, the head of the unit's emergency department, announced the new toll at a press conference in Rome as rescue efforts continued in the mountain villages devastated by the quake.
15.54 - The Italian Banking Association (ABI) has told its members to suspend mortgage payments in the towns affected by the earthquake, Ansa reported.
15.40 - Arquata mayor, Alberto Basso, has said 17 people are currently known to have died in the town.
In addition to the 17 dead, 55 people have been injured in Arquata, 20 of them seriously.
The official death toll still stands at 38, but the Italian media is reporting the quake has claimed the lives of at least 63 people.
Italy’s civil protection unit has said it will update the official total in a statement later this evening.
15.26 - Police work to stop looters
Teams of police officers are patrolling affected towns in a bid to stop potential looters from trying to profit from the tragedy.
14.56 - There are 81 quake victims currently at hospital in Ascoli Piceno, seven of whom are reportedly in a serious condition.
14.54 - Many children are reported to be among the dead, including an 18-month-old Marisol Permarini, who died while sleeping at her home in Arquata del Tronto.
14.41 - Unconfirmed death toll rises to 63, Ansa reported, based on the 38 confirmed victims and reports from the agency's correspondents at the scenes.
14.10 - A 4.9 magnitude aftershock felt in just before 2pm Arquata del Tronto, Ansa reported, causing more damage.
13.07 - Tent camps at Accumuli and Amatrice
Two tent camps are being set up by the Civil Protection agency in Accumuli and Amatrice, provided by Lazio's regional authorities. Each with space for 250 people, while further supplies are ready to be transported if needed.
12:47 – ‘35 dead in Amatrice alone’
With the official death toll still at 38, authorities say there are at least 35 people dead in Amatrice alone.
La Repubblica states authorities have amassed 14 bodies at a residential courtyard in the north of the town and a further 21 at a local school.
Three more bodies have been found by rescue teams in Amatrice in the last hour, while an 80-year-old woman has been pulled from the rubble alive.
12:42 - Amatriciana for Amatrice?
Restaurants across Italy are being called upon to donate €1 from sales of the famed amatriciana pasta dish, which was invented in Amatrice, to the Red Cross in order to help earthquake victims.
11.37 - Italy's Red Cross has sent teams to provide psychological support and a field kitchen to victims of the earthquake.
11.26 - Amatrice's hospital has collapsed, Corriere reported
Amatrice's hospital is a small building located outside the town centre but close to the earthquake's epicentre, and was looking after 15 patients at the time of the quake.
11.23 - Patients in Amatrice's hospital have been moved into the square because the building is no longer safe.
10.51 - Engineers raise questions over building safety.
“In Italy, in real estate purchase agreements, buildings legally require an energy certificate, but do not require stability certificates, as though it was less important,” Armando Zambrano, president of Italy’s National Council of Engineers, told Rai Radio.
Stefano Petrucci, mayor of Accumoli, a town of 635, has said that after walking through the town, none of the houses seemed habitable anymore. “We will need tents for the whole population,” he said, according to La Stampa.
10.40 - Rescue workers are still finding people alive under the rubble.
In Accumoli, Lazio, a 65-year-old-man has been extracted from under a collapsed building, while two children have so far been found in Pescara del Tronto, Marche.
Across the affected area, many volunteer workers have joined in the search and are searching through the rubble for friends and neighbours with their bare hands.
10.30 - Amatrice Mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, says he expects the death toll will rise substantially.
“There are tens of victims, many of them still under the rubble,” he told news agency Ansa. “We are preparing a place where we can put the bodies.”
The population of Amatrice is around 2,646.
10.25 - Russian embassy says no Russians hurt in Italy earthquake - Interfax
10.22 - Facebook has launched its 'safety check' feature for the earthquake.
A reminder that civil protection has activated a hotline - 800 840 840 for information.
10.12 - At least 21 people are reported to be dead, although Fabrizio Curcio, the chief of Italy's civil protection, has urged caution in reporting the death toll.
"Concerning the numbers I ask for patience and respect: we need to be sure of the numbers when we talk about victims," Curcio told state broadcaster Rai.
"As far as we know rescue teams have reached all the main areas," he continued.
"This morning there were problems in some villages, but now they have arrived, some were even flown in by helicopter, but there are small hamlets and there may be some gaps that need monitoring: we are conducting a census of the various hamlets."
10.05 - Authorities have asked people to avoid all unnecessary travel which could block rescue workers and emergency services from getting to the affected areas.
According to Rai News, there was a particularly high number of tourists visiting Amatrice, one of the Lazio towns worse affect, this week for the Sagra dell'Amatriciana, a festival to celebrate their regional pasta dish which was due to take place this weekend.
It is not yet known if any foreign nationals are among the dead.
Pope Francis has thanked rescuers and volunteers and asked Catholics to pray for the victims.
The affected area. Photo: Google Maps