Rescuers worked into the early hours of Thursday, in a desperate search for survivors after a powerful earthquake shook central Italy on Wednesday.
With 368 people injured, some critically, and an unknown number trapped under rubble, the death toll from yesterday’s pre-dawn quake was expected to rise further, officials warned.
Amid scenes of carnage, dozens of emergency services staff and volunteers were determined to attempt to pluck more survivors from the ruins.
The rescue efforts “won’t slow down during the night”, the head of the civil protection agency Fabrizio Curcio told public broadcaster Rai, giving an updated toll of 290 dead.
He did not say how many people were still thought to be missing.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had earlier said at least 120 people were killed in the earthquake. “This is not a final toll,” he warned after visiting the badly hit village of Amatrice.
Hundreds of people were to spend a chilly night in hastily assembled tents with the risk of aftershocks making it too risky for them to return home.
Scores of buildings were reduced to dusty piles of masonry in communities close to the epicentre of the quake, which had a magnitude of between 6.0 and 6.2.