In an incident which has all elements of being a miracle, a dog has been rescued by Italian firefighters more than a week after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy. The dog was salvaged from the rubble of a collapsed building in Amatrice on Friday.
The firefighters were accompanying a couple to their house to recover some of their belongings when they heard the dog barking.
The dog, a golden retriever supposedly named Romeo belonging to the same couple, appeared to be in good health despite having spent days amongst the debris.
The quake in the central Apennines Mountain region claimed nearly 300 lives, injured hundreds of people and left thousands of residents homeless and devasted several towns and hamlets.
A series of aftershocks struck towns in the region, toppling scores of buildings. Many persons are still believed to be trapped beneath building debris, while rescuers are struggling to reach remote villages and towns levelled in the quake.
The Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi had paid tribute to the volunteers and civil defence officials who rushed to the scene in the middle of the night and used their bare hands to dig for survivors.
The earthquake struck at a depth of 10 km.
The epicentre of the quake was in Norcia in Umbria, about 170 km north-east of Rome, while the hardest hit were the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto.
Much of the town of Amatrice was reduced to rubble.
Amatrice is known for its traditional all'amatriciana pasta sauce, and was gearing up to hold a festival celebrating the recipe this weekend. The town is popular with holidaymakers and most of the 2,500 people left displaced by the earthquake were said to be visitors.
The Italian branch of the Red Cross sent at least 20 ambulances and sniffer dogs to affected areas alongside the Italian Defence Ministry.
The devastated area is just north of L'Aquila, the city where some 300 people died in another quake in 2009.
Most of the deaths occurred in and around the villages of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto.
(With inputs from agencies)