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Report: Italy quake morgue has 228 bodies


Video by Catherine NORRIS TRENT , Jérôme BONNARD

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-04-07

The morgue for victims of central Italy's earthquake has received 228 bodies, Italy's domestic news agency reported on Tuesday, citing hospital sources.

Rescue workers continued to work through the rubble for survivors in the Italian town of L’Aquila and neighbouring villages, a day after an earthquake measuring between 5.9 and 6.3 on the Richter scale shook the central Italian region of Abruzzo.


The morgue for victims of central Italy's earthquake has received 228 bodies, the ANSA news agency reported on Tuesday, citing hospital sources.


Time is running out for those who might still be trapped in collapsed houses and rescue operations have been hampered by a strong aftershock on Tuesday.


The aftershock, felt at about 11:30 am (0930 GMT), measured magnitude 4.7 on the Richter scale, an official at the national geological institute told AFP.


Reporting from the village of Onna, FRANCE 24’s Alexis Masciarelli said the aftershock had been so strong, he had “seen the earth move like jelly.” Located near L’Aquila, Onna was almost razed to the ground on Monday, with 40 of the 250 to 300 residents of the village dying in the devastation.


“The aftershock is making the rescue operations very difficult because houses here can collapse at any time,” he added.


According to civil protection rescuers, 34 people were still missing after the quake and 1,500 injured. “We advise people not to go back into their homes," Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said during a news conference in L'Aquila, adding that rescue efforts to find people still alive will go on for at least two more days.


More than 100 people have been pulled alive from the rubble of collapsed dwellings in towns around L'Aquila. 


“Normally, four or five days after an earthquake, it is possible to find people alive,” Ivan Rodes Lozano, the coordinator of a Spanish search and rescue team, told media reporters. “The collapsed structure can leave a nest or a space where we hope and try to find them, and once we find them we can take them out alive."


“Now we must rebuild”


"Now we must rebuild and that will require huge sums of money," Berlusconi said, while touring the disaster area on Monday.


Berlusconi declared a national emergency and said his cabinet would provide €30 million for immediate assistance. He also pledged to seek hundreds of million of euros in EU disaster funds.


But the premier’s promise that nobody would be left alone hardly seemed to convince survivors, says FRANCE 24’s Masciarelli. According to civil protection rescuers, at least 17,000 survivors of the quake fled their homes and were now homeless.


“Most people had no idea what to do. You’d see people walking in their pyjamas, holding a suitcase or with a blanket wrapped around their shoulders,” he said.


Volunteers have set up makeshift camps providing basic food and shelter. "As far as this first night is concerned, we gave shelter to elderly people and children, while we wait for more tents for everybody,” Paolo Diani, a coordinator at the camp in Mazzano, an L’Aquila suburb, told journalists.


On the outskirts of the city, rescuers at the municipal sports stadium distributed emergency food and water but the reserves had run out by nightfall. Hotels on the nearby Adriatic coast have also been requisitioned to shelter homeless people.

Date created : 2009-04-07