"It Was Apocalyptic"
"We came out to the piazza, and it looked like Dante's Inferno."
"People crying for help, help. Rescue workers arrived after one hour ... one and a half hours.
Agostino Severo, Illica, epicentre of quake
"It was very, very violent and absolutely terrifying. I don't even know how to describe the sound."
"I managed to get out of my house but my pharmacy is destroyed."
Mauro Massimiliano, 49, Amatrice, Italy
The scene was captured on video by CNN affiliate Sky TG24.
The 6,2 Richter-scale magnitude tremblor that hit heritage medieval towns gracing the hilltops of Italy in the middle of the Apennine Mountains struck so early on Wednesday morning that sleeping residents of the towns hardly knew what hit them. They would have suspected an earthquake, since only seven years earlier one such tremblor destroyed a nearby town, as the latest one did their own. It is now known that 250 people did not survive the wreckage that became their beautiful towns' destruction.
Imagine the myriad of such scenes; a woman seated before a destroyed home, blanket covering her shoulders, in the shock of the aftermath, not knowing where her family members were, but suspecting they were all dead from the catastrophic earth movement. "It was one of the most beautiful towns of Italy and now there's nothing left. I don't know what we'll do", she said, distraught at the magnitude of the changes that had suddenly transformed her life.
|CNN -- A woman sits in front of a destroyed convent.|
The government has mobilized an all-out rescue with convoys of army trucks, of bulldozers, of ambulances and flatbed trucks driving the narrow, hazardous mountain roads. An appeal for people to donate blood went out nation-wide. Everything in the villages hit is covered with a fine white dust, vehicles sit crushed under masonry, many houses were sliced into portions, while other parts were left standing, interiors exposed to view.
Rescue workers from Italy's alpine rescue service accustomed to working in caves and on mountainsides, dug frantically through the huge rubble piles with their hands any time a suspected victim was detected, in hopes of saving yet another survivor. Injured people being carried away on stretchers were wrapped in blankets and bedspreads, the coverings that they were evacuated with from the beds they were in when the quake struck.
|CNN -- A man leans on a well, in Pescara del Tronto|
"There are many people still under the rubble. It's very dangerous work digging into the wreckage -- especially if there are more aftershocks", cautioned a police officer. "I was sleeping but suddenly heard this strange noise. I woke up and saw that everything was destroyed", Marianna, a nun helping to care for elderly people staying at the convent of the Most Holy Crucifix, said. Two other nuns were rescued by a pair of forest rangers: "They performed a very heroic act, they risked their lives. I'm sure God will reward them", said sister Marianna.
"Listen, I know it's not nice to say but if you need to pee you just do it", a ranger said comfortingly to an 80-year-old woman awaiting rescue from under the debris of her home, knowing it would take a little more time to effect her rescue. She was eventually rescued, but her 47-year-old daughter hadn't survived the quake. "It's totally collapsed, there's nothing left", said a man whose wife was weeping on his shoulder, viewing the ruins of their home.
|An aerial view shows the damage in the village of Saletta on August 26. CNN|