Italy earthquake
© APTN
Small towns have been devastated by the quake which hit on Wednesday night.
Italy's Prime Minister has declared a state of emergency in the area affected by the earthquake which killed at least 250.

It came as a strong 4.7-magnitude aftershock struck near the worst-hit town of Amatrice on Friday morning.

PM Matteo Renzi has authorised an initial €50m in crisis funding to start the rebuilding process and offered to cancel taxes for those affected.

He also called for a national collective effort - dubbed Italian Homes - to build dwellings for the future that will be safe in the event of other quakes.

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit on Wednesday and devastated parts of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche.



The fact that the devastation comes just seven years after more than 300 died in the nearby town of L'Aquila has prompted concerns not enough is being done to protect people's property and lives.

Mr Renzi said: "Just as the pain we feel today is strong, so, too, is the pride that belongs to a nation that is able to react in this way to a state of emergency.

"But that is not enough and we must think beyond the state of emergency, that there is a need for a bigger plan, and we will do that together."


Comment: Following the 2009 quake in L'Aquila - just a few miles to the south - which killed 300 people, the government set aside nearly €1bn for upgrading buildings in the region - but take-up has been desperately low, in part, critics say, because of the heavy bureaucracy involved.

Dario Nanni of the Italian architects' council explained,
"Here, in the middle of a seismic zone, nothing has ever been done. It does not cost much more, when renovating a building, to make it comply with earthquake standards. But less than 20% do."

At least three Britons were killed in the Italian earthquake in the village of Sommati, just outside Amatrice, Sky News understands.

Two of those killed were the owners of an apartment that was hit by the quake.

The other was the teenage son of another family who were staying with the owners.

It is understood that the two children of the apartment's owners survived. Their condition is not known. The mother and father in the other family are in hospital and their daughter also survived and is in an unknown condition.

Dozens of people are still believed to be trapped in Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, three of the worst-hit towns.

The Local news website said Amatrice normally has a population of around 2,500 but was packed with visitors when the quake struck.

The Foreign Office has refused to comment on reports of the British deaths.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said extra Foreign Office staff had been sent to the region to help provide support to Britons who have been affected.

Scores of aftershocks have been felt in the area where rescue work is under way.

At least 365 others were injured in the initial earthquake and the aftermath, which included a 4.3 magnitude aftershock the day after the first quake.

Although a few people are still being pulled out from rubble alive, a volunteer in Amatrice said 90% of those they find are dead.