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Italy quake toll rises to 73

dpadpa 24/08/2016

The death toll from the massive earthquake to hit central Italy has reached 73, with rescuers desperately attempting to find survivors.

Rescue workers battled against time to find survivors from an earthquake that struck central Italy before dawn on Wednesday, as the death toll reached 73 according to a preliminary tally from the Civil Protection Department.

It is feared the death count could rise further as many victims are trapped under rubble.

The quake - which had a magnitude of at least 6 - was felt as far away as Rome, which lies about 150km southwest of the epicentre, which lay at a depth of 4.2km in a wooded area in the province of Rieti.

It was followed by more than 50 aftershocks, the strongest a 5.4-magnitude quake.

"We will leave nobody on their own," pledged Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi as he thanked people - including many who had searched for survivors with their bare hands - for aiding the rescue effort.

He plans to travel to the region in the afternoon.

"Many are still trapped under the rubble," Amatrice Mayor Sergio Perozzi told ANSA.

"We're preparing a spot for the bodies."

"Half of the town is gone," Perozzi said.

But there were also signs of hope.

One boy was pulled alive from the rubble in the town of Pescara del Tronto.

Doctors also freed a 6-year-old boy from the rubble in Amatrice, though his twin brother remained missing.

The German Red Cross said rescue work would be difficult because of the region's mountainous terrain.

The European Union offered whatever aid it could, including access to satellite navigation services to better survey the scene.

"We stand, as ever, in solidarity with the Italian nation and are ready to assist in any way we can," tweeted European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker.

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