Rome: The death toll in the strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy early Wednesday morning has killed at least 159 people.
The extent of the devastation and death toll are still being realized. Most of the deaths are being reported from the town of Amatrice, near the epicenter of the earthquake.
There are many towns surrounding Amatrice that are also affected by the earthquake in Italy, which was felt 100 miles away in capital Rome.
Officials expect the death toll to continue to rise as search and rescue activities are being conducted by Italy’s Department of Civil Defense and Department of Civil Protection, along with local fire, police, and medical teams in an effort to locate survivors.
The shallow quake caused vulnerable old stone buildings to collapse while most people were sleeping. Subsequent and numerous aftershocks have further weakened already damaged buildings. Patients from the Amatrice hospital were transferred to a nearby hospital in Rieti as the hospital was severely damaged during the earthquake and was rendered unusable.
The director of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Fabrizio Curcio, has activated national emergency procedures and noted the Norcia / Amatrice earthquake is on par with the 6.3 magnitude L’Aquila earthquake that occurred in 2009, which resulted in more than 300 deaths, more than a thousand injuries, and left 50,000 people homeless.
Responding to the L’Aquila earthquake, CEO and founder Richard Hotes of Alaska Structures and the Hotes Foundation, donated a four-shelter 25-bed BLU-MED mobile hospital to the Italian government. Volunteers with the Hotes Foundation worked alongside members of the BLU-MED team and the Italian government to construct the 3,000 square foot mobile hospital.
The BLU-MED mobile hospital donated to the Italian government was part of BLU-MED Response Systems’ Disaster Response Stockpile. This program maintains an emergency supply of mobile field hospitals, medical shelters, command centers, office and work space, mobile trailer systems, as well as housing accommodations for up to 10,000 people capable of being deployed to any location in the world within 48 hours or less. (PR Newswire)