Wednesday's 6.2 magnitude earthquake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks with magnitudes as high as 5.1 and 5.4 as the town attempts to begin rescue and recovery efforts—more than 4,000 rescuers are working to clear rubble using heavy machinery and their bare hands.
The worst-hit towns—Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli—were all summer vacation destinations, which makes the death toll even harder to track.
According to BBC, rescuers have urged journalists and other on-lookers to leave Amatrice—the town with the highest death toll—because the town is crumbing.
There have been small moments of celebration as rescuers have found a young girl alive in the rubble after being trapped for more than 17 hours and a dog being rescued as well. Discuss
Dozens of people have been killed in central Italy, after the area was struck by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake. The mayor of the town of Amatrice, which was at the epicenter of the quake, says that the village is completely destroyed. Rescuers, first responders and teams from the Red Cross have been making their way to the areas affected by the disaster, but in some cases, they have had difficulty reaching victims because of the remote locations of some areas.
Back in 2009, another large earthquake killed more than 300 people in central Italy. Following the large earthquake last night, more than 40 tremors and other earthquakes—including a 5.5-magnitude—took place over the next three hours.
Nonprofit and humanitarian organizations in the region are asking for blood donations, as rescuers continue to pull injured victims from the ruble. In a statement from the Vatican, Pope Francis said:
I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted. I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened.
At least 54 people were killed and dozens were injured this weekend when a suicide bomber—who was reportedly just 12 - 14 years old—blew himself up at a Kurdish wedding party in the Turkish city of Gaziantep this weekend. According to the BBC, more than half of the victims were just children themselves.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ISIS is responsible for the attack, and according to early investigations, the type of bomb used is similar to ones ISIS has used in previous attacks on Kurdish communities. ISIS has recently faced significant losses in territory in the region (the area around the Turkish and Syrian border) thanks to the military efforts of Kurdish forces. Discuss
Last year around this time, an image captured the world's attention: a child who was the victim of the ongoing war in Syria. It was Aylan Kurdi, a toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish shore after the boat his family tried to escape on capsized.
This year, another evocative image (and video) is reminding the world of the horrors of the war. It's of a young Syrian boy who is bloodied, wounded and dazed in the aftermath of an airstrike, released by Aleppo Media Center.
Omran Daqneesh was pulled from the rubble of his bombed home in Aleppo, Syria this week. He is no older than 5 years old—which means that the war in Syria is as old as he is. Video shows Omran sitting silently in an ambulance waiting for help after he's just been pulled from the rubble of his home.
According to reports by CNN, everyone in Omran's immediate family—his parents, a brother and sister—all survived.
A new report from the U.S. State Department has found that religious freedom violations are rampant around the world, with nearly 74 percent of the entire global population living in countries that have “serious restrictions on religious freedom,” according to David Saperstein, the US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.
The report specifically called out Muslim countries that enforce anti-blasphemy laws and anti-conversion laws. From the report:
In many other Islamic societies, societal passions associated with blasphemy – deadly enough in and of themselves – are abetted by a legal code that harshly penalizes blasphemy and apostasy. Such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights. All residents of countries where laws or social norms encourage the death penalty for blasphemy are vulnerable to attacks such as the one on Farkhunda [Malikzada, a woman killed after being accused of burning a Quran].
This is particularly true for those who have less power and are more vulnerable in those societies, like women, religious minorities, and the poor. False accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon. Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common. In addition to the danger of mob violence engendered by blasphemy accusations, courts in many countries continued to hand down harsh sentences for blasphemy and apostasy, which were used to severely curtail the religious freedom of their residents.
At an event last week when the report was released, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken told reporters that though “bigotry and intolerance” are every where in the world,” state-sponsored religious persecution is unacceptable: “Every country has an obligation to respect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.” Discuss