The death toll from the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that destroyed several parts of central Italy has now risen to 247, while 368 others are injured, officials said on Thursday morning.
Over 200 aftershocks have also been felt since the earthquake on Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported. Some aftershocks measured 5.1 on the Richter scale and hampered the rescue operations.
Around 190 people were killed in the Rieti province, the epicentre of the quake, and another 57 were killed in Ascoli Piceno, the Civil Protection Department in Rome said referring to a tally by local officials. Over 1,000 people have also been displaced.
Around 4,300 rescue workers worked through the night to help people trapped under the rubble. "We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars and jacks to remove beams: everything, we need everything," Andrea Gentili, a civil protection worker, told the AP.
Meanwhile, the Italian government has asked citizens to donate blood and has also called for blankets and medicines.
The Italian Defence Ministry has also deployed the Army to assist in the rescue operations, NBC News reported. Seven to eight helicopters were deployed to ferry people to safer locations, while sniffer dogs were brought in to sift through the waste and so that people trapped under the rubble could be freed. Makeshift hospitals and tents were set up by the emergency medical units to treat the injured.
"Right now we feel terrible pain. Italy is a family that has been hit and struck, but we are not going to be stop. In difficult times, Italy knows what to do," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said while addressing the nation on Wednesday, CNN reported.
Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin has said that the death toll could rise further. Five bodies were also pulled out from the ruins of Hotel Roma in Amatrice. Around 35 people were staying at the hotel and most had managed to escape. Around 10 people are still missing, a local fire official said.
A six-year-old child was rescued from under the debris on Wednesday. However, residents still complained that rescue teams, which include Alpine crews, carabinieri, fire-fighters, Red Cross crews and volunteers, were slow to arrive while people were trapped under the rubble.
"We are waiting for the military. There is a base in Ascoli, one in Rieti, and in L'Aquila. And we have not seen a single soldier. We pay! It's disgusting!" resident Alessandra Cappellanti was quoted by the AP as saying.
Thousands of pilgrims were invited by Pope Francis to St. Peter's Square to recite the rosary with him. The Pope has also sent six members of the Vatican's fire department to assist in the search and rescue operations.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Italian President Sergio Mattarella over phone and sent his thoughts and prayers to the quake victims. He also saluted the "quick action" taken by first responders, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy at around 3:36 a.m. local time on Wednesday with its epicentre in Rieti, a province located south east of Norcia.
The quake caused serious damage to several towns and villages, the worst affected being Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto.