First story today takes us to the Southern European nation of Italy. A powerful earthquake struck there last week, its epicenter in the central part of the country. It killed at least 281 people, most of them in a historic city named Amatrice. Many people are still missing. More than 2,000 are huddling in camps because entire villages in the area were flattened.
Along with volcanic eruptions and avalanches, deadly earthquakes are relatively common in Italy. In addition to the toll they take on human life, they destroyed heritage as well. The historic buildings that attract tourists are particularly vulnerable in large part because of their age and antique construction.
In his prayers on Sunday, Pope Francis said that the quick way in which authorities, volunteers and civil staff were responding shows how important working together is in overcoming these events.
Fred Pleitgen is there with the firsthand look at how and why the Italians' response is so fast.
SUBTITLE: Italian response to natural disasters.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The catastrophic earthquake in Central Italy had a devastating effect on many of the towns here in this region, and it's really the thing that makes these towns so beautiful that caused this earthquake to have an even worse impact. These towns are ancient. Many of the buildings are more than a thousand years old. They were built before there were even bricks.
They're made of stone and they're made of mud. And when the earthquake hit and it was a magnitude 6.2, these buildings just fell together and crumbled.
The response of this disaster was very quick. The Italians very quickly mobilized over a thousand agencies to get over here as fast as possible, including the military, very fire department, the police, the civil protection force and, of course, local authorities as well. They moved in very fast. They moved in heavy equipment very fast and they moved in important assets like for instance sniffer dogs that are key in the first couple of hours to try and to find people who may have survived the initial shocks of these earthquake.
The Italians have the very mountainous countries. There's a lot of hills. There's a lot of big mountain ranges. And so, the rescue crews here have a lot of experience in getting up into remote areas like this one. They know how to build bridges. They know for instance how to maneuver very difficult terrain.
The rescue response is probably very different than it would be in the United States. In the U.S., in the initial stages, you would have state authorities, you would have the local police, you have the local fire departments. It would take much longer for the federal authorities, for instance, with the National Guard to move in.
Here, that response is a lot quicker because Italy, of course, is a much smaller country, but also, their disaster plans fall from mobilizing the army for instance much quicker.