Italy grieves as state funeral held for victims of powerful quake

A state funeral held on Saturday for some of the 290 people killed in an earthquake this week. Italian President Sergio Mattarella flew to Amatrice by helicopter to see the damage for himself before travelling on to the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno for the funeral. He was joined by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, parliamentary chiefs and local mayors. Amongst the 35 coffins laid out in a sports hall were small caskets holding the bodies of an 18-month-old baby and a nine-year-old girl, two of the 21 children who are known to have died when the quake hit central Italy early on Wednesday.

Don’t be afraid to bewail your suffering, we have seen so much suffering. But I ask you not to lose your courage.

Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole, in a homily held at the hall

Even as the funeral Mass was being held, rescuers kept searching through the rubble of the worst hit town, Amatrice, although they acknowledged they had little hope of finding any more survivors from Italy’s worst earthquake in seven years. Nine more bodies were recovered from the town on Saturday, including three corpses that were pulled overnight from the crumpled Hotel Roma, bringing the death toll in Amatrice alone to 230 residents and tourists.

What happened cannot just be considered fate. If these buildings had been constructed like they are in Japan then they would not have collapsed.

Prosecutor Giuseppe Saieva, speaking to la Repubblica newspaper