Pope visits earthquake-hit Amatrice

Pope Francis makes surprise visit to north Lazio town ravaged by earthquake.

Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the north Lazio town of Amatrice devastated by the 6.2-magnitude earthquake on 24 August that caused 298 deaths in the area.

The pontiff travelled to Amatrice on the morning of 4 October, the day after returning to Italy from his historic trip to Baku in Azerbaijan.

Francis visited a temporary school in the town set up in the wake of the earthquake, meeting the pupils and teachers and listening to their stories of the disaster. He then visited the heavily-damaged town centre, which remains sealed off, accompanied by firefighters and the local mayor.

The pope said that his Amatrice visit was made "privately, alone, as a priest, as a bishop, as Pope", according to a Vatican press release.

Amatrice bore the brunt of the earthquake, recording more than 230 fatalities, while almost 4,000 people are still living in temporary shelter near the town after their homes were destroyed.