Death toll rises as more earthquakes strike Italy

Rescuers work amid collapsed building in Amatrice, central Italy, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Rescue crews raced against time Thursday looking for survivors from the earthquake that leveled three towns in central Italy and Italy once again anguished over trying to secure its medieval communities built on seismic lands. (Italian Firefighters Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

AMATRICE, Italy (AP) — Strong aftershocks rattled residents and rescue crews alike Friday as hopes began to dim that firefighters would find any more survivors from Italy’s earthquake. The first funerals were scheduled to be celebrated for some of the 267 dead.

Some of hard-hit Amatrice’s crumbled buildings suffered more cracks after the biggest aftershock of the morning struck at 6:28 a.m. The U.S. Geological Service said it had a magnitude of 4.7, while the Italian geophysics institute measured it at 4.8.

The aftershock was preceded by more than a dozen weaker ones overnight and was followed by another nine in the subsequent hour — some of the nearly 1,000 aftershocks that have rocked the seismic area of Italy’s central Apennine Mountains in the two days since the original quake Wednesday.

Rescue efforts continued through the night, but more than a day and a half had passed since the last person was extracted alive from the rubble. While Premier Matteo Renzi hailed the fact that 215 people had been rescued since the quake, civil protection officials reported only a steadily rising death toll that stood early Friday at 267.

Nevertheless, civil protection operations chief Immacolata Postiglione insisted that the rescue effort continued in full, “in search of other people trapped in the rubble.”

The first funerals are getting under way for some of the victims of Wednesday’s earthquake.

The news agency of the Italian bishops’ conference says one funeral will be held in Pomezia for two women and their granddaughters and three others killed in the quake. A close collaborator of Pope Francis, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, will say the funeral Mass.

A state funeral is scheduled for Saturday for the victims of Arquata, where 49 people died.

In addition, a common funeral service for the dead in the hard-hit towns of Amatrice and nearby Accumoli will take place next Wednesday.

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