Amatrice (Italy), Aug 26: Strong aftershocks rattled residents and rescue crew members alike on Friday (Aug 26) as hopes began to dim that firefighters would find any more survivors from Italy's earthquake. The first funerals were scheduled to be observed for some of the 267 dead.
Some of hard-hit Amatrice's crumbled buildings suffered more cracks after the biggest aftershock of the morning struck at 6:28 am.
The US Geological Service said it had a magnitude of 4.7, while the Italian geophysics institute measured it at 4.8.
The aftershock was preceded by more than a dozen weaker ones overnight and was followed by another nine in the subsequent hour - some of the nearly 1,000 aftershocks that have rocked the seismic area of Italy's central Apennine Mountains in the two days since the original quake Wednesday.
Rescue efforts continued through the night, but more than a day and a half had passed since the last person was extracted alive from the rubble. While Premier Matteo Renzi hailed the fact that 215 people had been rescued since the quake, civil protection officials reported only a steadily rising death toll that stood early Friday at 267.
Nevertheless, civil protection operations chief Immacolata Postiglione insisted that the rescue effort continued in full, "in search of other people trapped in the rubble."
Italian news reports said the first funerals were to be celebrated Friday for some of the victims: in Rome, for the son of a local police chief; in Pomezia Terme for two grandmothers and their two grandchildren.
Rescue operation is on
Rescuers search for survivors under the rubble of the town of Amatrice, central Italy, Wednesday, August 24, 2016 following an earthquake. A strong earthquake rocked central Italy early Wednesday, collapsing homes on top of residents as they slept. AP/PTI
Historical part of Amatrice stands ruined
This aerial photo shows the historical part of the town of Amatrice, central Italy, after an earthquake, Wednesday, August 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 am and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. AP/PTI
Inside of a damaged church
A broken crucifix hangs inside the damaged church of Santa Maria della Misericordia in Accumoli, central Italy, Wednesday, August 24, 2016. AP/PTI
A nun turns emotional
Sister Marjana Lleshi gets emotional during an interview with the Associated Press in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Sister Mariana, a 32-year-old from Albania, was one of three nuns and an elderly woman who survived the earthquake that hit central Italy early Wednesday when she escaped a collapsing convent in Amatrice, a medieval hilltop town. When the quake struck, half of the convent collapsed, three nuns and four elderly women are still missing. AP/PTI
A bird's eye view of the damage caused
This aerial photo taken Wednesday, August 24, 2016 and made available Thursday, August 25, 2016 shows the damage done after an earthquake in the village of Pescara del Tronto, central Italy. AP/PTI
Rescue personnel in action
Rescuers search a crumbled building in Arcuata del Tronto, central Italy, where a 6.1 earthquake struck just after 3:30 am, Wednesday, August 24, 2016. AP/PTI