Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has offered to assist Italy with aid and rescue efforts after a strong earthquake struck the central region of the country.

Netanyahu also offered Israel’s condolences to Italy, which is facing a race against time to save survivors. Dozens of people are believed to have been killed and many more unaccounted for after the earthquake reduced buildings to rubble and caused blackouts.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the epicentre was northeast of Rome, near Norcia in Umbria, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude at 6.2.

“It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,” said Lina Mercantini, of Cesalli, Umbria.

As dawn broke, emergency services and residents were scrambling to rescue people trapped under the ruins of razed old buildings, digging with shovels, bulldozers and even their bare hands to reach survivors.

Aleandro Petrucci, mayor of Pescara, said the village was one of “two or three hamlets that have just completely disintegrated”.

Christians United for Israel UK