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Dozens Dead, Towns Wiped Out After Major Earthquake Strikes Central Italy

A powerful earthquake struck a mountainous stretch of Italy Tuesday night, leaving death and devastation in its wake.

The first 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time, approximately 6.5 miles from the village of Norcia in the Umbria region. This was followed by around 40 aftershocks over the next three hours, which also affected the Lazio and Marche provinces.

The Italian news agency Ansa is reporting a provisional toll of 73 fatalities so far, while three villages have been buried under rubble. The town of Amatrice is said to have 35 deaths, 11 more in nearby Accumoli, and 17 more from the provincial city of Ascoli Piceno. More fatalities were confirmed in nearby areas, and various media agencies expect that the death count will rise as the response effort is underway.

“Half of the town doesn’t exist anymore,” said Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi according to The New York Times. “People are stuck underneath the rubble. Houses are no longer there.”

Recovery efforts are already underway, with locals providing assistance to emergency services as they shift through debris to aid survivors. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that he will head to the central Italy to assess the damage later in the day.

UPDATE – 1:25 p.m. ET: Renzi has announced an increase in the death count.

[Image via Twitter]

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