Already suffering from the earthquake that shook the area Wednesday, a strong 4.3 magnitude aftershock hit the town of Amatrice in central Italy.
The aftershock caused more damage to buildings and sent up plumes of smoke, instilling panic in the town.
Meanwhile, civil protection officials have revised the death toll from Wednesday’s 6.2-magnitude earthquake to 241, with 184 in Amatrice, 46 in Arqueta and 11 in Accumoli, the three hardest-hit towns, which are largely ruined. Several hundred have sustained injuries and received treatment.
Authorities said they expected to confirm more deaths as the search operation continue. So far, 215 people have been pulled alive from mounds of rubble. Rescue crews aided by sniffer dogs have been digging through crumbled homes looking for more earthquake survivors.
The civil protection agency said that of the 5,400 people working under its command in the devastating zone, including police, soldiers and firemen, more than half were volunteers.
Italian National Institute of Geophysical and Volcanology (INGV – Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) has registered about 500 aftershocks and said it is closely monitoring the highly seismic area along the Apennine mountain range.
Allied countries, such as Germany, France and Israel all offered to send teams to support the disaster relief, but the Italian government has politely declined, saying its hugely experienced emergency service and army of unpaid workers did not need any back up.
Italy’s culture ministry has decreed that proceeds from public museums across Italy this coming Sunday will be used to help restore damaged buildings in the affected areas.
Several churches and other medieval-era buildings were damaged or destroyed in the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy.
In a statement Thursday, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini urged Italians to visit museums and Italy’s numerous archaeological sites Sunday “in a concrete sign of solidarity” with quake victims.
Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.