A series of aftershocks have struck central Italy ahead of a state funeral for many the 281 earthquake victims. The strongest measured magnitude 4.2 as the country began a day of national mourning which will see flags lowered to half mast. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and President Sergio Mattarella will attend a service in the town of Ascoli-Piceno for about 40 of those who died in the mountain villages of Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto. Several funerals were held on Friday and a common funeral service for the dead in the hard-hit towns of Amatrice and nearby Accumoli will take place next Wednesday. Relatives of some of the dead visited an airport hangar in the regional capital of Rieti on Friday to see the bodies of their loved ones that had been taken there.
We don’t know, and we might never know, if the number of missing that we knew about actually corresponds to the people who were actually under the rubble.
Paolo Cortelli, Member of the Alpine Rescue service
It came as the mayor of Amatrice said he was afraid that his town was at risk of getting cut off as the rescue work continues following more than 1,000 aftershocks. Sergio Pirozzi said two crucial access roads and a bridge had been further damaged in the last few days outside the town where 221 out of the total death toll of 281 died. Mr Renzi has declared a state of emergency for the area affected by Wednesday’s 6.2 magnitude quake, which occurred in a region that straddles Umbria, Lazio and Marche. The youngest victim was five-and-a-half months old and the oldest in her mid-90s. At least 388 people remain in hospital, with about 40 of them in a critical condition. Several of those killed were foreigners, including three Britons and up to eight Romanians, thousands of whom are living in the area.