A young man wept over a little girl's white coffin, while a woman nearby gently stroked another small casket, as Italians bid farewell Saturday to victims of the devastating earthquake that struck a mountainous region of central Italy this week. As Italians observed a day of national mourning, President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Matteo Renzi joined grieving family members for a state funeral for 35 of the 290 people killed in Wednesday's quake, the AP reports. Mourners, among them many injured, wept and held each other in a sweltering community gym in the town of Ascoli Piceno as the local bishop urged them to rebuild their communities.
Before the mass funeral, people hugged and cried as they bid their final farewells to loved ones in the gym. Among the victims were two girls, 18-month-old Marisol Piermarini and 9-year-old Giulia Rinaldo, whose younger sister survived against the odds beneath the rubble, still holding her dead sibling. "It is a great tragedy. There are no words to describe it," said town resident Gina Razzetti. "Each one of us has our pain inside. We are thinking about the families who lost relatives, who lost their homes, who lost everything." The magnitude 6.2 quake was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, killing at least 290 people and injuring nearly 400. The death toll has steadily risen as rescue workers continue to find bodies buried in rubble.