Editor's note: The death toll from the earthquake and its aftermath has now risen to 241.
A deadly earthquake struck Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning, decimating three towns. The death toll is currently at 73.
The town of Amatrice was hit hardest, according to CNN.com. Its mayor said the town “is no more.”
The earthquake hit central Italy. The other two towns that were hit hardest are Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, according to Stream.org.
Authorities said that the death toll will likely rise as more people are uncovered from the rubble.
"Everybody is outside and people are quite afraid to go inside their houses," reports CNN's Fred Pleitgen from the town of Accumoli. "Many of them also believe they are going to spend the night outside. Many are afraid of aftershocks and what happened last night."
Pope Francis has sent six firefighters from the Vatican to help with the aftermath of the quake.
Many residents are in shock and deep mourning for the loss of life and of their homes.
“It was one of the most beautiful towns of Italy and now there’s nothing left,” said one woman who was a resident of Amatrice. “I don’t know what we’ll do.”
Another survivor of the quake, Rev. Savino D’Amelio, a parish priest in Amatrice, said, “I don’t know what to say. We are living this immense tragedy. We are only hoping there will be the least number of victims possible and that we all have the courage to move on.”
Officials are preparing for possible aftershocks from the quake. They are also searching tirelessly for those who may yet be trapped in the rubble.
"They always say the first 72 hours are key -- for those who are trapped, that’s (typically) how long they can survive,” said CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen who is on the scene in Accumoli.
Publication date: August 24, 2016