The toll in the earthquake that struck central Italy four days ago has risen to 281. Rescue operations were called off on Friday in a number of areas that were worst affected by the 6.2-maginute quake and the more than 1,050 aftershocks that followed, Reuters reported.

Emergency crews and sniffer dogs combed through the rubble in Amatrice town, which was destroyed in the disaster, and any hope to find survivors in the debris is fast diminishing. Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said, "Only a miracle can bring our friends back alive from the rubble, but we are still digging because many are missing."

A state funeral is planned for around 40 victims in Ascoli Piceno city on Saturday. Italy announced a day of mourning, and flags will fly at half mast.

According to Rome's Civil Protection Department, hospitals were treating 388 people for injuries, and 40 of them are in critical condition. The earthquake – the worst since the 5.9-magnitude temblor in 2009 – left some 2,500 people homeless.