Volounteers arrange furnitures in a tent camp in Arquata Del Tronto, Italy, 25 August 2016, after the 6.2 earthquake struck Italy

The death toll from the massive earthquake in central Italy rose to 267 on Friday, as hopes of finding more survivors dwindled and the first funeral services were held.

The magnitude-6 quake struck a mountainous area between the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Marche early Wednesday, toppling buildings and leaving many people trapped under the rubble in three municipalities about 150 kilometers north-east of Rome.

Immacolata Postiglione, head of the emergency department at the country's civil defence agency, Protezione Civile, said that 207 people died in Amatrice, 49 in Arquata del Tronto and 11 in Accumoli.

She added that 387 people have required hospitalization.

Amid an outburst of solidarity that led to an oversupply of food, clothes and volunteers to the affected areas, the Protezione Civile said more than 2.5 million euros (2.8 million dollars) had been raised through a donations campaign via SMS.

One of the first funeral services for the victims was held in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Rome, commemorating the 28-year-old son of a police chief who died while on holiday in Amatrice. His family was originally from there.

Most of the dead from Arquata, in the Marche region, were to be given an official funeral in the cathedral of the provincial capital of Ascoli Piceno on Saturday, with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in attendance.

Saturday will be a day of mourning across Italy, Renzi's office said.

Amatrice will host a memorial service for its dead and those from Accumoli on Tuesday, local Bishop Domenico Pomili said. The service was brought forward by a day to allow the presence of Renzi, who expects a visit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

Rescuers were still at work in Amatrice. A spokesman for the fire service, Luca Cari, told RAI public radio that authorities had not given up on finding people alive under the rubble. "We are still in the phase of hope," he said.

Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said at least 15 people were still unaccounted for. The town's medieval centre was so badly damaged that it "needs to be razed to the ground completely" and rebuilt from scratch, he said.

There have been more than 900 aftershocks, many of them strong. A 4.8-magnitude one early Friday caused further collapses in Amatrice and the closure of an unstable bridge leading to the remote hilltop town.

Plans were underway to replace it with a temporary structure, but for the moment access to Amatrice relies only on another bridge also at risk of collapse. "I am deeply worried," Pirozzi said. "If there were problems with it, all connections would be cut off."

Late on Thursday, Carabinieri police made the first arrest for attempted looting in evacuated houses. They caught a 45-year-old man from Naples who was trying to break into a home in a hamlet near Amatrice.

Also on Thursday, the government in Rome has declared a state of emergency and pledged 50 million euros for immediate relief efforts, while the Culture Ministry said at least 293 heritage sites were damaged, 50 of them severely.

Authorities are under pressure to ensure an efficient reconstruction effort, avoiding the bureaucratic tangles and corruption scandals that usually plague public works in Italy. L'Aquila, a town where an earthquake killed 309 in 2009, is a sorry example.

Reconstruction funds "have to be spent properly, respecting the Italian people, because a lot of money was wasted and misspent in previous emergencies," Renzi said after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

In an interview Friday with the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Infrastructure Minister Graziano Delrio said the government would offer bigger tax breaks to home owners to secure private buildings against earthquake risks.

According to the National Council of Engineers, more than 50 per cent of Italian homes were built before earthquake safety regulations were introduced in 1974. Securing buildings in the areas at highest risk of quakes would cost almost 36 billion euros, it added.

Meanwhile, in a mark of respect for the tragedy, organizers of the August 31-September 10 Venice Film Festival said they cancelled a gala dinner and reception scheduled for the opening night on Wednesday.

More on this story

Aftershocks hit quake-struck central Italy

Quake-struck central Italy was hit by several aftershocks early Friday, the US Geological Survey reported. The strongest aftershock hit at 0428 GMT with a magnitude of 4.7.

Related stories

Latest news

Fire at asylum seeker accommodation in Sweden

A fire overnight at an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Sweden caused injuries to at least a dozen residents, police said on Sunday.

Analysts: Croatia's economy rises 3.3%, hitting new high since 2008

Croatia's economy expanded 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, compared to Q4 2015, according to projections of economic analysts polled by Hina, who ascribe this record high rise to increasing personal consumption, higher industrial output rates and growing investments.

Fate of German hostage in Philippines unknown as deadline passes

The fate of a 70-year-old German man held captive for three months in the southern Philippines was unknown after a deadline for a ransom to be paid passed Sunday, a military spokesman said.

Dengue fever risk growing in Thailand, authorities say

Dengue fever is posing a greater threat in Thailand, particularly in the southern region, the country's Disease Control Department said Sunday, as the number of people killed by the mosquito-borne disease this year stands at six.

Brexit fears plague locals and expats alike in southern Spain

As Britain's departure from the EU approaches, the anxiety is most palpable on Spain's Costa del Sol, where so many Britons live. What will happen to the economy if the expats one day have to leave?

'La La Land,' politics to share spotlight at Oscars

The Oscars will take the stage Sunday for an awards ceremony whose outcome feels like a foregone conclusion - a win, or 10, for "La La Land."

Suspected drunken driver injures 28 at New Orleans Mardi Gras parade

A pick up truck driven by a suspected drunken driver plowed into a crowd of spectators at a Mardi Gras parade in the US city of New Orleans on Saturday, injuring at least 28 people.

"Moonlight" big winner at independent film awards

The coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" won six prizes including best feature at the 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards Saturday, claiming the Hollywood spotlight on the eve of the Oscars.

Trump: I won't attend White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he does not plan to attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year.

US Democratic Party chooses Tom Perez to be next party chief

The US Democratic Party elected former labour secretary Tom Perez as its next party chief at a meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

73-year-old man dies after car ramming in Germany

A 73-year-old male pedestrian died from his injuries after being run over when a car rammed into people in the south-western town of Heidelberg, police said Saturday.

Syrian government vows retribution for Homs attacks that killed 42

The Syrian government vowed retribution for synchronized attacks on Saturday in Homs City that left 42 security personnel dead and reportedly involved up to six suicide bombers.