What we know Friday afternoon:
—A 4.7-magnitude aftershock struck central Italy, and the president has declared a state of emergency.
—The death toll from the magnitude-6 earthquake in central Italy has risen to 290.
—The worst-affected areas are the villages of Arquata and Pescara del Tronto in the Marche region, and Accumoli and Amatrice, which are in Lazio.
—Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi warned the city could be isolated if key access roads damaged during the aftershock were not quickly cleared.
—We’re live-blogging the major updates. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).
August 27 at 3:46 p.m.
Italy's Civile Protezione says the death toll has risen to 290 as of Saturday afternoon. The day was set aside as a national day of mourning. Grieving families in Ascoli Pisceno began to bury the dead in a state funeral on Saturday, while President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Matteo Renzi toured the region.
August 26 at 5:46 p.m.
The death toll rose to 281 as of Friday afternoon. In Amatrice, where a magnitude-4.7 aftershock hit early Friday morning, two key access bridges were damaged, threatening to isolate the city at a time when emergency responders are needed most.
“With the aftershocks yesterday but especially this morning the situation has worsened considerably," Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice, said Friday. "We have to make sure Amatrice does not become isolated, or risk further help being unable to get through."
August 26 at 9:45 a.m.
Aftershocks continued to hit central Italy on Friday morning as rescuers searched through the flattened houses and rubble looking for survivors. Matteo Renzi, the prime minister, declared a state of emergency.
In one of the most devastated towns, Amatrice, a magnitude-4.7 aftershock hit just after dawn and damaged two access roads, nearly isolating the hilltop town. It was the largest of more than 50 overnight aftershocks in the Appenine Mountain region, and more than 500 temblors have shook the area since the magnitude-6.2 quake hit Wednesday. As of Friday morning, 267 people have died.
Renzi’s state-of-emergency announcement authorized about $56 million in relief, much of it going to Amatrice, where the majority of people have died. Firefighters have pulled more than 215 people from the rubble, and 360 are being treated at hospitals.
August 25 at 7:16 a.m.
The death toll in Wednesday’s earthquake in central Italy has risen to 247; 190 people died in Rieti province and 57 in Ascoli Piceno. Rescue workers, thousands of them, are going through the rubble in the villages of Arquata, Pescara del Tronto, Accumoli, and Amatrice in the hope of finding survivors. Dozens are still believed to be trapped. Many of the dead were children, Italy’s health minister said, and scores of people are still missing so the toll could rise.
Amid dozens of tremors and an aftershock, rescue workers looked for survivors through the night.
Italy's Civil Protection Department says at least 159 people have now died in the earthquake, the AP reports.
President Obama spoke with his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, to offer his condolences and assistance on Wednesday, the White House said in a statement.
The President spoke by phone today with President Sergio Mattarella of Italy to offer his deepest condolences on behalf of the American people to the people of Italy following the devastating earthquake that struck central Italy overnight. President Obama saluted the quick action of first responders and volunteers who have been working to save lives. Reaffirming the strong bonds of friendship between the United States and Italy, the President underscored that the United States stands ready to provide any assistance needed during this difficult time.
In an article on Italy's notoriously lax building standards, the Guardian’s John Hooper notes the earthquake’s timing could keep its death toll lower compared to a similar temblor that struck the peninsula in 2009.
The casualty tally will nevertheless be far higher than it should be in a country of Italy’s wealth – but much lower than it might have been. The 6.2-magnitude earthquake, like the one that devastated L’Aquila, struck at night.
Had people been at work, in shops or at school, the outcome would have been much worse. Two years ago, Gian Vito Graziano, president of Italy’s National Council of Geologists, said that according to some estimates, if the L’Aquila earthquake had struck when students were in their classrooms, “the number of victims would have been thousands, not hundreds.”
Some of the images coming out of Italy show the extent of damage. Amatrice especially seems to have been flattened.
Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, has raised the death toll to 120. He said more than 300 others are missing.
Rescuers are looking for survivors in the areas affected.
ANSA has more on the breakdown of the toll:
Of the victims, 35 were counted in the Lazio village of Amatrice, 11 in the nearby village of Accumoli, and 17 confirmed in a hospital morgue in the city of Ascoli Piceno. These include fatalities from the villages of Arquata and Pescara del Tronto, plus a little girl from Amatrice who was extracted from the rubble alive but died in hospital.
Italy’s Civil Protection Department, which is dispatched during crises like this one, says the death toll stands at 73.
+ NEWS/ Protezione Civile, #terremoto: 73 morti nuovo bilancio. +— Rai Radio1 (@Radio1Rai) August 24, 2016
Italian state police have released aerial footage of the affected area.
ANSA, the Italian news agency, is reporting that the death toll has risen to 63. The number isn’t official, but is based on the news agency’s reporting from the area devastated by the quake, as well as from counts from local officials. Here’s more:
Of these, 35 were counted in the Lazio village of Amatrice, 11 in the nearby village of Accumoli, and 17 confirmed in a hospital morgue in the city of Ascoli Piceno. These include fatalities from the villages of Arquata and Pescara del Tronto, plus a little girl from Amatrice who was extracted from the rubble alive but died in hospital.
The death toll is likely to rise. Rai, the Italian broadcaster, says the death toll in Amatrice alone is 35.
We’re getting images now of the damage in Pescara del Tronto, which is located on a hillside. It looks as if much of the village has been reduced to rubble.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told the nation he will visit the area Wednesday afternoon.
The U.S. Geological Survey, which tracks quakes around the world, says the quake had a magnitude of 6.2. Here’s the region where it struck:
Italian authorities say a magnitude-6 earthquake in the central part of the country has killed at least 38 people. Dozens more are missing in the quake that struck in the early hour of Wednesday morning.
The death toll so far is confined to four villages: Arquata and Pescara del Tronto (10 dead), which are in Marche, and Accumoli and Amatrice (28 dead), which are in Lazio.
Here’s more on the quake from ANSA, the Italian news agency:
The earthquake, which struck at 03:36 local time and was followed by a second, 5.4 magnitude seism at 04:33 between Umbria and the Marche, was said by civil protection authorities to be "comparable in intensity" to the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake in which over 300 people died.
There were reports of "apocalyptic scenes" with many collapsed buildings in the towns and villages affected. Rescuers had difficulty accessing the area due to landslides and damaged infrastructure.
This is a developing story and we’ll update it as we learn more.