The worst affected areas are villages in a mountainous region of central Italy
Rescue workers are racing to find survivors amid the rubble
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Saletta, Italy (CNN)In the small Italian towns hit hard by a magnitude-6.2 earthquake that struck in the middle of the night, rescuers feverishly dug through the rubble of downed homes and apartments looking for survivors.
In one such rescue, shown on CNN affiliate Sky TG24, a firefighter in Amatrice clawed at the rubble, trying to get to a little girl.
He pulled back bricks and other debris as his co-workers and other men leaned in.
Suddenly there was a foot, and leg, then the other leg.
In the video, a man seems to be talking to the girl, as someone repeatedly says the name "Julia."
Several people wriggle in to help the firefighter, helping pluck items out of the way while others make sure nothing falls on either victim or rescuer.
The firefighter clutches a girl, said to be 8 years old, and walks her out of the huge pile of rubble as a volley of cheers erupts.
The girl silently holds on. It is impossible to tell what color clothes she is wearing because she is coated in gray dust.
"Bella ragazza!" one bystander says as the girl is carried to safety. "Beautiful girl!"
Similar scenes played out in Amatrice and the other towns hit hardest by the deadly quake, which killed at least 159 people, according to ANSA, Italy's national news agency.
Waiting for news of missing loved ones
In the village of Saletta, a settlement of about 20 people, residents used their bare hands to ferret through the rubble of a two-story home in a desperate search for neighbors.
They called out names as they dug through the remains of a bedroom. Rescue dogs sniffed and clawed through the debris, with no signs of life.
As night fell, some villagers placed chairs near homes reduced to piles of rubble. Covered in blankets, they sat patiently and vowed to be, at the very least, present when the remains of loved ones were discovered.