Francesco Di Paolo, 27, was lucky to escape alive from the earthquake as his family home in Amatrice was one of the few buildings left standing.

“It was dark when we got outside," he said, "but when I switched on a torch, what confronted me was simply horrific. A wall had fallen down on my car and the houses on either side of us had collapsed.

“There were three people in one house, a mother, a daughter and her boyfriend. They were all killed in their sleep. They lived in a big, beautiful house with a lovely garden and they were buried under the rubble.”

“I went back in to get some clothes later and went out again to try and find my friends. One friend lived in a beautiful house, but their house didn't exist any more, it was destroyed. Three of his family died there.”

Di Paolo, who is staying in a camp set up by the Red Cross, said he hadn’t slept since the earthquake.

He added: “People have lost their houses, their friends and their families. We all know people who are dead, injured or missing.”