Rescuers believe they have located more bodies in the ruined town of Amatrice, five days after a devastating earthquake struck central Italy, killing at least 290 people.
Residents of the hill town said up to 10 people were still missing and emergency services said they might have located three corpses in Amatrice’s Hotel Roma, which, like much of the historic centre, was wrecked by Wednesday’s quake.
“I am certain there is one more person (in the hotel), because it is my uncle,” said Deputy Mayor Gianluca Carloni.
“It is absolutely vital to finish as soon as possible this initial (search) phase to make sure that there are no more bodies under the rubble,” he said.
The Civil Protection Department lowered the official death toll on Sunday to 290 from a previously given 291. A number of foreigners were among the dead, including 11 Romanians, the foreign ministry in Bucharest said.
Many Romanians work in Italy and Bucharest said 14 of its nationals were still unaccounted for.
Museums across Italy will donate proceeds from Sunday’s ticket sales to help the rebuilding effort and soccer teams will hold a minute’s silence before their weekend matches out of respect for the victims.
Pope Francis led prayers for the dead in his weekly address in Rome, saying he wanted to go to the earthquake zone to bring comfort to the survivors.
“Dear brothers and sisters, as soon as it is possible, I hope to come and visit you,” he said.
Italy has promised to rebuild the shattered communities and has said it will learn from the mistakes of the reconstruction following a similar earthquake in the nearby city of L’Aquila in 2009, where much of the centre is still out of bounds.
“The government isn’t going to tell you what should be done. You will decide what needs doing,” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told relatives of the dead on Saturday at a state funeral for 35 of the victims.