Residents of Italian towns devastated by an earthquake were rattled by a series of aftershocks overnight, the strongest measuring 4.2, as Italy began a day of national mourning.

The national mourning includes a state funeral for some of the victims in Ascoli Piceno to be attended by Premier Matteo Renzi and President Sergio Mattarella. Ahead the funeral, caskets were lined up in a gym where mourners have been bidding farewell to loved ones, kneeling, crying and placing their hands on flower-covered caskets.

The quake that struck before dawn on Wednesday took the lives of at least 281 people while 387 have been hospitalized for injuries.

Saturday's early morning aftershock had a magnitude of 4.2, according to the Geological Service, while the Italian geophysics institute measured it at 4.