L'Aquila (Italy), Apr. 7 : Survivors who lived through the earthquake in the central Italian town of L''Aquila said the devastation was "like 20 seconds of hell".
The death toll has risen to 179, as rescue workers used mechanical diggers and their bare hands to search through the night for survivors.
At least 34 people are still missing, according to officials in the medieval mountain town located 60 miles east of Rome, reports The Telegraph.
L''Aquila resident Maria Francesco said: "It was the apocalypse, 20 minutes of hell, our house collapsed. It''s destroyed, and there''s nothing left to recover."
"I only remember this huge rumble and then someone dragged me out, but I don''t know what happened to my wife and three-year-old son," said 35-year-old Stefano Esposito.
Around 100 people have been pulled from the rubble but hopes are dimming of finding any more alive.
The quake, measuring between 5.8 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, struck shortly after 3:30 a. m. on Monday, when most people were asleep.
Houses, apartment blocks and medieval churches were severely damaged in L'Aquila and surrounding villages.
Aftershocks were felt well into the night, frightening already shaken inhabitants.
"It is a serious disaster. Now we must rebuild and that will require huge sums of money," said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who declared a national emergency and visited the disaster zone. (ANI)