Chicago to provide relief to Italy following earthquake that killed hundreds

- A frantic search for survivors is underway after a powerful earthquake rocked central Italy Tuesday night.

More than 160 people have been killed and dozens more are injured after the magnitude 6.2 quake struck. Three towns have been reduced to rubble.

Here in Chicago, Italian Americans are figuring out what they can do to help.

The epicenter of the quake was the mountain village of Amatrice that has a population of 2-thousand. Lissa Druss Christman has family throughout central Italy, including cousins who live not far away from Amatrice.

In the hours after the disaster, she's been in contact with her relatives.

"The problem is in Italy, this is a very mountainous small area and it's hard to get to and if you think about it, these are very, very old towns. We're talking 16-century buildings, 17-century buildings that literally crumbled into nothing, it's not like we're living in southern California where there are earthquake resistant buildings…so something like this is devastating,” Christman said.

Nearly half a million Italian Americans call Chicago home. Many have family and friends living in Italy, and many are desperate to get updates.

Cell phones have been critical in gathering information.

"That's how I've been communicating with five or six of my cousins all day; is how are you doing, are you scared, any more earthquakes, any more tremors, so the text messaging has really been a savior for communication in something like this,” Christman said.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is working with Italian authorities to get relief to those hit hardest.

"We're working with the Italian Consul General and we will direct the funds to where they are needed, not just for today but for tomorrow, and weeks to come and months to come because this is not just a today event, they're going to need funds for a long time to come,” they said.

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