Reuters posted the following story. Some were saying it felt, “Like the end of the world.” The “birth pangs” are getting intense. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Italy earthquake toll passes 200
By Deepa Babington and Antonella Cinelli
L’AQUILA, Italy (Reuters) – The death toll from a devastating earthquake in central Italy rose to 207 on Tuesday and aftershocks hampered the race to dig possible survivors out of the debris.
Rescuers worked under floodlights through the night and thousands of people whose homes were wrecked sheltered in tents and cars.
“The hope of finding anyone under the rubble now is very small,” said a civil protection agency official at a camp set up outside L’Aquila, the historic mountain city shattered by the quake.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said 207 people were now confirmed as dead in the worst quake to strike Italy in 30 years. Of some 1,500 people injured, about 100 were in serious condition.
The new aftershocks struck fear into people, with residents running out of tents screaming and crying after a particularly strong tremor. Buildings shook and masonry fell onto the streets but no new injuries were reported.
“We advise people not to go back into their homes,” Berlusconi told a news conference in L’Aquila, adding that rescue efforts to find people still alive will go on for at least two more days.
An aftershock on Tuesday which hit at about 11:26 a.m. (0926 GMT) and registered magnitude 4.7, was felt as far away as Rome, where furniture swayed on the upper floors of buildings.
The estimated number of homeless was revised to 17,000 from a previous 50,000 and the number of missing was under 50.
Shows of solidarity came from home and abroad. Italian soccer teams said revenue from this weekend’s matches would be sent to help victims. Universities and newspapers throughout the country took collections.
Officials said the quake would severely affect the region’s economy, much of which is based on tourism, agriculture and small, family-run businesses.
NOT ENOUGH TENTS
A camp was set up on a sports field outside medieval L’Aquila but there were not enough tents and most people spent the night in their cars as temperatures in the mountainous, windy area hovered near freezing.
“I can’t even bear to think of the future,” said Angela Camon, 37, who spent the night in a tent with her husband and a bible. “There is nothing to go back to.”
Berlusconi, who has declared a national emergency, visited L’Aquila again to survey the damage and promised residents the government will help them rebuild their homes.
Rescuers and volunteers working by the glare of floodlight and using mechanical diggers and their bare hands searched through the night for survivors. Sniffer dogs aided the hunt.
Occasionally there was hope and exhilaration.
More than 24 hours after the quake, emergency workers dug out two students who had been trapped under rubble.
The quake struck shortly after 3:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) on Monday, catching residents in their sleep and flattening houses, centuries-old churches and other buildings in 26 cities and towns.
“It is a serious disaster. Now we must rebuild and that will require huge sums of money,” said Berlusconi, whose government already faces a high deficit and huge public debt.
Berlusconi has pledged to seek hundreds of million of euros in EU disaster funds.
With some two-thirds of the buildings ruined in L’Aquila, alone, each successful rescue prompted celebrations by anxious relatives and emergency workers, many of them volunteers.
A fireman recounted how he pulled a boy alive from the mangled remains of his house after a day-long search.
“All we could see was his head sticking from the rubble, his entire body was buried. We kept digging, picking piece by piece of debris and we finally managed to get him out — when we did the fatigue was great but so was our joy,” he said.
(Writing by Philip Pullella; additional reporting by Rome bureau; Editing by Angus MacSwan)