x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Aftershock hits Italy

A strong aftershock rocks the Italian city of L'Aquila shortly before dawn, with the death toll reaching 250.

A woman reacts following an earthquake aftershock, at a makeshift camp in L'Aquila, central Italy.
A woman reacts following an earthquake aftershock, at a makeshift camp in L'Aquila, central Italy.

A strong aftershock rocked the Italian city of L'Aquila shortly before dawn today, when the hunt for survivors of the quake that has claimed at least 250 lives was set to resume. The latest aftershock struck around 6.30am, after a series of tremors overnight rattled the city nestled in the Appennine mountains that was the epicentre of Monday's 6.2-magnitude quake. Most of the 17,000 people made homeless by the quake spent the night in tent camps that have sprung up around L'Aquila, the capital of the central Abruzzo region, but some people spent a second night in their cars.

Police patrolled the historic town centre overnight to protect abandoned apartments and businesses against looters. The Civil Protection Department said that the death toll in Italy's earthquake has risen to 250. The department said that 11 of the victims remained to be identified. Some 100 out of the 1,000 people injured were reported to be still in serious condition. Rescuers were set to resume at dawn the increasingly desperate hunt for survivors more than 48 hours after the quake that devastated the historic mountain city and 30 kilometres in all directions.

The nearby villages of Villa Sant'Angelo and Borgo di Castelnuovo were practically wiped out. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said yesterday that 7,000 police, soldiers and other emergency service personnel and volunteers were taking part in the frantic search for survivors. Volunteer groups joined professional rescue teams with mechanical diggers who used sniffer dogs to locate victims. "We're a bit tired, but still very active," said Fabrizio Curcio, director of the Civil Protection emergency bureau, which is co-ordinating rescue work from a gymnasium on the outskirts of L'Aquila.

"Frankly, fatigue is not a major concern ... We're running on adrenalin." Berlusconi, who has declared a state of emergency in the region, said the search would go on through Thursday, adding that 150 people had so far been pulled out alive from collapsed structures. * AFP and AP