Technology

Italy quake rescuers ask locals to unlock their wi-fi

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Media captionDrone shows extent of Italy quake destruction

Rescue teams searching for earthquake survivors in central Italy have asked locals to unlock their wi-fi passwords.

The Italian Red Cross says residents' home networks can assist with communications during the search for survivors.

On Wednesday a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy and killed more than 240 people.

More than 4,300 rescuers are looking for survivors believed to still be trapped in the rubble.

On Twitter, the Italian Red Cross posted a step-by-step guide which explains how local residents can switch off their wi-fi network encryption.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The Italian Red Cross has published a step-by-step guide on how to remove wi-fi passwords

Similar requests have been made by the National Geological Association and Lazio Region.

A security expert has warned that removing encryption from a home wi-fi network carries its own risks, but added that those concerns are trivial in the context of the rescue operation.

"If someone gets on your wi-fi network, what they do from that point onwards would be appearing as if they were you," said Dr Joss Wright, a research fellow at the University of Oxford Internet Institute.

Dr Wright told the BBC that, once given access to a user's wi-fi network, a person potentially has access to certain devices and files.

"But frankly, in a situation like this, those concerns are outweighed by the emergency need," he added.

Image copyright Google/AP
Image caption These pictures show the main street in Amatrice before and after the quake
Image copyright Google/EPA
Image caption These images show the hamlet of Pescara del Tronto before and after

The 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 03:36 local time (01:36 GMT) on Wednesday, 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome, where some tremors were felt after the quake.

"We are sleeping in the car and there were shocks all night. When the biggest one came, the car started moving and shaking," said Monica, a survivor from Amatrice.

A tented camp has been set up, because so many buildings are now unsafe.

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