The Latest: Fewer casualties likely in quake damaged hotel

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AMATRICE, Italy (AP) — The Latest on the earthquake in central Italy (all times local):


2:30 a.m.

Italian rescue workers are expecting fewer casualties than initially feared at the site of a hotel that was badly damaged in Wednesday's earthquake.

Officials initially said about 70 people had been staying at the Hotel Roma in the central Italian town of Amatrice when the quake struck.

But an official with Italy's civil protection agency, Luigi d'Angelo, told Sky TG24 that about 35 people had been staying at the hotel, and most had managed to get out. Carlo Cardinali, a local fire official taking part in the search efforts at the hotel, estimated that about 10 guests were missing.

Five bodies have been pulled from the rubble.

Workers had been forced to suspend their search at the hotel, though overnight searches for earthquake survivors were continuing elsewhere.



Among the victims of an earthquake in Italy was an 18-month-old girl whose mother survived the deadly earthquake of 2009 in nearby L'Aquila and moved away from there after that terrible experience.

The news agency ANSA reported that the toddler, Marisol Piermarini, was sleeping in her bed in the family's vacation home in Arquata del Tronto when the quake struck early Wednesday.

Her mother, Martina Turco, survived the earthquake that struck L'Aquila, killing more than 300 people. Now she is being treated in a hospital after being pulled from the rubble as the family mourns the death of the little girl.


11:45 p.m.

Italian authorities say that the death toll in an earthquake on Wednesday has risen to 159.

The civil protection agency gave the updated figure shortly before midnight in Italy, some 20 hours after the earthquake struck. The tremors reduced three towns to rubble and sparked urgent search efforts.


11:40 p.m.

Some of the survivors of an earthquake in Italy are spending their first night in a makeshift shelter on the edge of Amatrice, a town destroyed in Italy's quake on Wednesday.

Late into the night a temporary shelter in a sports center was still being prepared.

Residents forced from destroyed or damaged homes arrived clutching some of their own belongings and lining up for blankets, sweaters and other donated items to get through a chilly night in the hilltop town. Officials say the death toll is at 159.

Bottled water and cookies were put out for the displaced people, as were diapers, though no babies were there.


10:45 p.m.

A rescue official says Italian rescue workers have been forced to suspend their search at the site of a hotel that was badly damaged in Wednesday's earthquake.

Officials say about 70 people had been staying at the Hotel Roma in the central Italian town of Amatrice when the quake struck early Wednesday. Five bodies have been pulled from the rubble so far.

A rescue worker told The Associated Press about 10 p.m. that it was too dark and dangerous to continue, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. An AP photographer went to the site and saw it was pitch black.

One of the people killed in the rubble of the hotel was an 11-year-old boy who had initially given signs of life.

Overnight searchers for earthquake survivors or victims were continuing in some other places in central Italy.

___ Alessandra Tarantino in Amatrice.


8:35 p.m.

A 10-year-old girl has been pulled alive from the rubble in Pescara del Tronto, one of the three towns most severely demolished by the earthquake in central Italy.

You can hear something under here. Quiet, quiet," one rescue worker said, before soon urging her on: "Come on, Giulia, come on, Giulia. ... Watch your head."

Cheers broke out when she was pulled out.

Two women ran up the street yelling "She's alive!"

Chief firefighter Danilo Dionesei confirmed the girl was pulled out alive and was taken to a nearby hospital.

He didn't immediately give any further details about her condition.


8:25 p.m.

President Barack Obama is telling Italian President Sergio Mattarella that the U.S. sends its thoughts and prayers after the earthquake that killed at least 120 people and injured hundreds.

The White House says Obama spoke to Mattarella by phone on Wednesday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the president saluted the "quick action" by first responders in Italy.

Earnest says the U.S. State Department is working to provide assistance to any Americans who may be affected.


8:10 p.m.

Italy's health minister says many children were among the 120 victims of the earthquake in the country's center.

Minister Beatrice Lorenzin spoke to the AP Wednesday as she left the quake-hit Amatrice on foot, but didn't specify how many children were among those killed or injured.

She said that while there's no immediate blood emergency in the quake-hit zone, residents will have other health needs down the line, especially psychological.

The area hardest hit by the quake is a popular vacation spot for Italians enjoying the final days of summer. For Romans, the medieval hamlets 90 minutes' drive from the capital are popular spots for country houses.

Lorenzin said the rescue operation functioned well.

"Sadly we are used to this phenomenon," she said.


7:50 p.m.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his condolences to the people and governments of quake-hit Italy and Myanmar.

He said Wednesday Ban "is very much saddened" by the loss of life and damage done by the earthquakes in the two countries.

Dujarric added the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is in contact with Italian authorities and along with its partners stands ready to support the government and local organizations "should any humanitarian support be needed."


7:25 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says the death toll from the quake that hit central Italy has risen to 120.

Renzi spoke Wednesday evening in the provincial capital of Rieti after visiting rescue crews and survivors in the hard-hit town of Amatrice and flying over other demolished towns in nearby Le Marche region.

Renzi said 34 people died in Le Marche, the rest from the other towns. He also says the identification of quake bodies was a difficult process.


6:45 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has offered his condolences to Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni for "the loss of life and devastation" caused by the earthquake in central Italy.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that Kerry had offered any U.S. assistance that Italy might require and made clear "the American people stand with Italians in this difficult time."

He said Kerry pledged to stay in close contact as search, rescue and recovery efforts continue.


4:40 p.m.

Sniffer dogs, earthmovers and other heavy equipment are arriving to the quake zone area to help with the rescue effort and provide for those left homeless by the earthquake.

Tent cities and kitchens were being set up in and around the major towns hit by Wednesday's magnitude 6 temblor.

More than 12 hours after the quake struck a slow procession of earth-moving vehicles loaded on the beds of firetrucks made their way to the edge of the hard-hit hilltop city Amatrice.

Rescue teams poured in from nearby regions: spelologists from Umbria, Alpine rescue experts from Abruzzo and canine units from elsewhere in Italy.


4:00 p.m.

Italy's civil protection agency says the death toll from the magnitude 6 earthquake in central Italy has reached 73.

The head of the agency's emergency service, Immacolata Postiglione, gave the breakdown at a briefing Wednesday but stressed that the figures were still provisional.

The civil protection agency is coordinating the rescue, which has involved hundreds of crews from across Italy and even the Vatican. It is setting up tent cities around the hard hit cities to care for the thousands of people left homeless.


3:50 p.m.

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 went to Amatrice early Thursday. A statement said the decision was taken as a "sign of the pope's concrete proximity to the people affected by the quake."

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.


3:30 p.m.

Rescuers have pulled dozens of people young and old from the rubble of Italy's powerful earthquake, while trying to keep some victims calm as they waited to be pulled to safety.

One ranger had to persuade an 80-year-old woman trapped under the debris of her home to go ahead and urinate where she was since they couldn't get her out anytime soon.

The ranger said: "Listen, I know it's not nice to say but if you need to pee you just do it."

The woman was later taken to the Ascoli Piceno hospital. Her 47-year-old daughter who lived with her was killed.


2:30 p.m.

A geologist in Poland says that the magnitude 6 earthquake in central Italy was caused by the slow but constant under-surface movement of the African Plate toward Europe.

Jerzy Zaba of the Silesian University in Katowice, in southern Poland, said Wednesday that a wedge-shaped front of the African Plate is pressing into the Eurasian Plate in the Adriatic Sea region and pushes into the neighboring regions, like Italy's Apennine Mountains. The tension that accumulates leads to a sudden release in the form of under-surface rock movement that causes earth tremors.

Zaba told Polish PAP agency that the African Plate is moving northwards at the speed of up to 5 centimeters (2 inches) a year.


2:15 p.m.

A resident of the hamlet of Illica, north of hard-hit Amatrice, reached for a literary reference to describe the scene after the earthquake hit.

Agostino Severo, a Rome resident visiting Illica, said: "We came out to the piazza, and it looked like 'Dante's Inferno.' People crying for help, help. Rescue workers arrived after one hour... one and a half hours."


1:30 p.m.

The quake-hit Italian city of Amatrice is famed as the birthplace of one of the most famous Roman dishes: spaghetti all'amatriciana, a hearty dish of pasta made with bacon-like bits of cured pork jowl, pecorino cheese and tomato.

Amatrice, in fact, was due to have its annual festival honoring its namesake food on Aug. 27-28 in the historic center now rendered to rubble.

Legend has it that the amatriciana sauce was originally prepared only with the pork — known as guanciale — and sheep-milk pecorino available to peasants, and that tomatoes were added at a later date.


1:10 p.m.

The mayor of quake-devastated Amatrice says rescue teams are trying to reach all 69 hamlets around his central Italian city and that so far 17 deaths have been confirmed in Amatrice alone.

But Mayor Sergio Pirozzi tells The Associated Press: "I believe the number will rise."

Pirozzi, wearing a blue sweatshirt with "Amatrice" on it, said he had given rescue teams indications of which hamlets might have people still trapped under debris.

Italy's civil protection service says the preliminary toll from Wednesday's 6 magnitude quake is 38.


12:30 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says the priority for the coming days is to rescue any survivors of the devastating earthquake and that he will head to the zone later in the day.

In brief remarks, Renzi thanked rescue workers who dug through debris, some with their bare hands, to reach residents crushed by their homes.

Renzi says that in times of trouble, Italy shows its true face. He says: "No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone."


12:20 p.m.

German leaders have offered condolences and assistance to Italy following the devastating earthquake.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that "if it is wanted, we are of course ready to provide support."

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed "the deep sympathy of the German people" in a message Wednesday to Italian Premier Matteo Renzi. She wrote that "the pictures of the devastation are shocking."


12:05 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande is offering Italy "all the help that might be necessary" after the deadly earthquake in Umbria.

Calling it a "terrible tragedy" in a statement after a special security meeting Wednesday, Hollande offered the support of "all the French people." He didn't elaborate on what help France is offering.


11:59 a.m.

The European Union's top crisis management official says Italy has requested satellite images of earthquake-hit parts of the country as Rome tries to establish the scope of the damage.

Commissioner Christos Stylianides said Wednesday that the EU emergency response center is in contact with Italian civil protection authorities to see what additional help might be required.

Stylianides conveyed the EU's condolences and expressed solidarity with Italy, saying that its "thoughts are also with the first responders and all those involved in the rescue operations."


11:55 a.m.

Italy's civil protection agency says at least 37 people have died in the magnitude 6 quake that struck central Italy.

The agency, which is coordinating the rescue effort, gave the preliminary toll as rescue teams continued to claw through debris in hard-hit towns.

Previously, reports and officials had said at least 23 were dead.


11:15 a.m.

Israel's leader says he has offered Italy rescue assistance following the magnitude 6 earthquake that shook the country.

A statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday says he offered the help to his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi. The statement says he sends his condolences to the people of Italy.

Italy and Israel are close allies. Israel often offers and sends rescue assistance to countries that have experienced temblors.


11:05 a.m.

Italy's forestry police say they have extracted dozens of people alive from hard-hit Pescara del Tronto in Italy's Le Marche region, but rescue crews still haven't reached the nearby hamlet of Peracchia di Acqua Santa Terme.

The forestry police joined Italian carabinieri, firefighters, civil protection crews, Red Cross workers, army and Alpine troops in the rescue effort in towns hit by the magnitude 6 quake in central Italy. Pescara del Tronto was one of the hardest-hit towns, along with Accumoli and Amatrice.


10:50 a.m.

Residents say another town in central Italy has been devastated by the 6 magnitude quake: Pescara del Tronto in the province of Ascoli Picenza, in eastern Le Marche region.

The ANSA news agency reported 10 dead there, but there was no official confirmation.

The main road into and out of the town was covered in debris, making rescue difficult; residents were digging their neighbors out by hand. Photos taken from the air by regional firefighters showed much of the tiny town essentially flattened


10:40 a.m.

Pope Francis has skipped his catechism lesson during his Wednesday general audience and instead led pilgrims in praying the rosary for the victims of Italy's earthquake.

Holding a rosary in his right hand, Francis told the crowd that he was stunned by the devastation of the magnitude 6 temblor that struck central Italy early Wednesday. He said he wanted to express his pain and solidarity with the victims.

The crowd in St. Peter's Square recited the prayer along with him.


7 a.m.

The ANSA news agency says two bodies have been pulled from the rubble of quake-hit Amatrice in central Italy after a strong quake levelled buildings as residents slept.

Many buildings in center of Amatrice were razed by the 6.1 magnitude quake, which struck at 3:36 a.m. Wednesday. As dawn broke, residents with shovels and emergency workers with bulldozers were beginning to try to reach people trapped under the debris and clear blocked roads.

The two bodies mark the first known victims of the quake, although the mayor of the other hard-hit town of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, says a family of four is buried without any signs of life.


6:15 a.m.

The mayor of the quake-hit town of Accumoli says a family of four has been located under the debris of a collapsed building and but there are no signs of life.

Mayor Stefano Petrucci told state-run RaiNews24 that there was also another victim in the town, which is close to the epicenter of Italy's 6.1 magnitude quake.

Officials say Accumoli and Amatrice have been the hardest hit by the quake. Residents across a broad swath of central Italy felt the temblor, which struck at 3:36 a.m. and sent people running into the streets.


5 a.m.

The mayor of the Umbrian town of Amatrice, hit hard by the 6.1 magnitude quake, says residents are buried under the debris of collapsed buildings and that "the town isn't here anymore."

Sergio Pirozzi told state-run RAI radio and Sky TG24 that he needs heavy equipment to clear rubble-clogged streets to get to the injured.

Asked if there were any dead he said: "Look there are houses that aren't here anymore. I hope we get some help."

The quake struck central Italy, near Rieti, shortly after 3:30 a.m. and was followed by several aftershocks.


This story that the girl pulled alive from rubble was 10-years-old and not 8.

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