27, August 2016
Italians held a mass funeral Saturday for the victims of the recent earthquake in the central part of the country whose death toll has reached 290. The country observed a national day of mourning Saturday. Italy’s civil protection agency said in a statement that the tally rose to 230 confirmed deaths in Amatrice, the worst hit town, in Rieti province as more bodies were recovered. Elsewhere, in Accumoli, located in the same province, 11 people were announced dead, and in Arquato del Tronto, in the province of Ascoli Piceno, 49 others lost their lives.
In the early hours of August 24, a powerful earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Italy, and almost flattened scores of towns and villages in the central parts. The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, the strongest of which measured 4.2, rattling the already hit areas. Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi joined hundreds of mourners at a state funeral for some 40 victims of the quake at a community gymnasium in the town of Ascoli Piceno, the capital of March region.
“Don’t be afraid to cry out your suffering but do not lose courage. Together we will rebuild our houses and church. Together, above all we will restore life to our communities, starting from our traditions and from the rubble of death. Together,” said Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole in the community gym, urging the mourners to find courage to rebuild their homes and communities.
The 2,000-population town of Amatrice is now in ruins with only a few buildings left standing. In 2009, Aquila in central Italy was jolted by a 6.3-magnitude quake. Over 300 people died in the natural disaster. Two other tremors also jolted the northern region of Emilia Romagna in May 2012, leaving nearly two dozen people dead and some 14,000 others homeless.