Survivors, family, friends consumed by grief bury the first 35 victims of the earthquake in Ascoli Piceno, the capital of the Marche region. Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Senate President Pietro Grasso, Lower Chamber President Laura Boldrini and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi also attended the funeral service.
Dozens of flower-covered caskets were lined up in a gymnasium as people bid farewell to loved ones, kneeling, crying inconsolably and placing their hands on the caskets. Hundreds more stood silently outside, others hugged each other as Giovanni D'Ercole, the Bishop of Ascoli, implored them not to lose faith.
"Don't be afraid to scream your suffering, but do not lose courage. Together we will rebuild our houses and churches. together, above all, we will give life back to our communities...the village bells will ring once again."
The death toll in the 6.2-magnitude earthquake stands at 291 people as worst-hit town, Amatrice had a total of 230 residents and tourists dead. At least 387 people are in hospital. Three more bodies were pulled from the town's Hotel Roma overnight and there are fears yet more bodies will be recovered.
Italian magistrates have opened investigations into some of the incidents.
"What happened cannot just be considered fate,' said prosecutor Giuseppe Saieva, who is leading the probe. 'If these buildings had been constructed like they are in Japan then they would not have collapsed," he told La Repubblica Newspaper.
At least 16 foreigners died, 10 Romanians, 3 Britons and one each from Canada, El Salvador and Spain.
Source and photo credit: News agencies