A powerful earthquake reportedly killed more than 240 people and destroyed a cluster of small mountain villages in Central Italy early Wednesday, and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers are frantically digging through the rubble and searching for survivors.

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Among the hardest hit towns was Amatrice, a village of 2,700 in the province of Rieti. Survivors painted a grim picture of devastation following the magnitude 6.2 quake, which struck at 3:36 a.m. and was felt as far away as Rome, FOX reports.


“The town isn’t here anymore,” said Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice. One witness described apocalyptic scenes “like Dante’s Inferno.”

While the full extent of casualties is still emerging, Italy’s civil protection agency reported the death toll had risen to 241 early Thursday with at least 264 others hospitalized. Most of the dead — 184 — were in Amatrice. Authorities revised downward an earlier figure of 247 after one of the affected areas corrected its toll.