Some victims of the massive earthquake in central Italy were given state funerals on Saturday, a day of national mourning during which officials said the provisional death toll from the tragedy had increased to 290.
The magnitude-6 quake struck a rugged mountain area between the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Marche early on Wednesday, killing 281 people in three municipalities about 150 kilometers north-east of Rome.
The town worst hit was Amatrice, where 230 bodies were recovered but people were still missing, Italy’s civil defence agency, the Protezione Civile, said.
In two other affected communities the death toll was final: 49 dead in Arquata del Tronto and 11 in Accumoli.
An official funeral was held for 35 of the Arquata dead, in the provincial capital of Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region.
President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi were among the dignitaries in attendance.
During the service, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole said he had turned in anguish to God and asked: “And now, what do we do? The answer that we can give is silence, hugging and, for me, prayer”.
He said the crucifix hanging in the sports hall where the Mass was held was retrieved from one of the quake-hit towns.
Amid sweltering heat during the service, one of the victims’ relatives fell ill and was brought out on a stretcher, the ANSA news agency reported.
Earlier, Mattarella flew by helicopter to Amatrice, to meet rescue workers and survivors, and also made a stopover in nearby Accumoli. After the funeral, he was due to visit other survivors in the hospital of Ascoli Piceno.
State funerals for Italy earthquake dead holds today, as death toll reaches 290
Reviewed by Link Naija