AFP URGENT: Powerful earthquake hits central Italy overnight, killing at least 50 people, collapsing buildings and leaving thousands more homeless. MAP PHOTOS
L'AQUILA, Italy — A powerful earthquake struck central Italy early Monday, killing at least 50 people, causing entire blocks of buildings to collapse as residents slept inside and leaving thousands of people homeless, officials said.
In the city of L'Aquila, near the epicenter of the quake, twisted steel supports, slabs of walls, furniture and wire fences were strewn about the streets and a gray dust carpeted sidewalks, cars and residents alike.
Officials said the death toll was likely to rise as rescue crews clawed through the debris of fallen homes, searching for the dozens of people still unaccounted for.
Parts of L'Aquila's main hospital were evacuated because they were at risk of collapse, forcing the wounded to be treated in the open air or taken elsewhere.
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It's the worst tragedy since the start of the millennium," said Guido Bertolaso, the head of Italy's Civil Protection Department." As we read these words we really can't help but feel like awkward onlookers as this news speeds across the wire services. And words can't really begin to describe the desperate emotion that rescue workers and families are feeling as they search through rubble looking for survivors. Today let your emotions be stirred as together we become that light on an Italian hill.
WORDS TO WARM THE HEART
"...respect your neighbor. And cherish the man who comes from afar. Venerate the distance in him. Distance is like allusion to the infinite. Love the man in your neighbor. Love God in the man who comes from afar." - Lanza del Vasto
"Your neighbor is the man who needs you." Elbert Green Hubbard
"The love of our neighbors is the only door out of the dungeon of self." George MacDonald
"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid." Matthew 5:13-14