Italy began the painful task of burying its dead Saturday following a massive earthquake - as aftershocks rattled the heart of the country and the death toll climbed to 290.
In Ascoli Piceno province, a state funeral was held in a local gym.
Thirty-five coffins adorned with flowers and framed photographs sat in three rows for victims from the town of Arquata del Tronto.
Taped at the foot of each coffin was the name of the deceased printed on white paper.
Before the ceremony, family members clustered around each coffin, one teenager sitting on the floor next to one, weeping inconsolably. One family encircled a coffin with peach-colored flowers and held each other in a long embrace.
Bishop Giovanni d'Ercole led the ceremony, telling the painful story of a little girl who was saved from the rubble, her sister found dead on top of her, apparently shielding her sibling.
"They were holding each other, between them in embrace, both death and life," he said.
"A lot of the dead were children. So a thought to you young people -- we are now living in a time of war ... The earthquake is like a war because nature does not forgive. We have to defend ourselves because it is wise. We must have a dialogue with nature and never provoke nature," he said.
But he also said that after the tragedy, the communities affected would be given new life: "A new spring and a new birth come." See more photos below: