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Queen sends message of condolence after devastating earthquake

Published 24/08/2016

Rescuers search through debris of collapsed houses in Pescara del Tronto (AP)
Rescuers search through debris of collapsed houses in Pescara del Tronto (AP)

The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the Italian president following the devastating earthquake in central Italy, which left at least 120 dead.

She said she was saddened to hear of the loss of life and that her thoughts were with those families affected.

Hundreds were injured when the magnitude six quake in central Italy reduced three towns to rubble.

The death toll is likely to rise as crews reach homes in more remote hamlets, where the scenes were apocalyptic ''like Dante's Inferno'', according to one witness.

"Prince Philip and I were saddened to hear of the loss of life following the earthquake in central Italy," the Queen said in her message to president Sergio Mattarella.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Italy, especially the family and friends of those affected."

Hardest-hit were the tiny towns of Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, some 80 miles north-east of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto further east.

The area is a popular holiday spot in the summer, with populations swelling, making the number of people in the area at the time difficult to estimate.

''The town isn't here any more,'' said Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice. ''I believe the toll will rise.''

The quake struck at 3.36am local time and was felt across a broad swathe of central Italy, including Rome, where residents woke to a long swaying followed by aftershocks.

The death toll had reached 120, prime minister Matteo Renzi confirmed.

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