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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Three children rescued after 16 hours from the rubble of their quake-hit home in Italy

Boy, 11 credited with saving his younger brother by shoving him under a bed when the quake hit the holiday island of Ischia

Rescuers carry Ciro, 11, on a stretcher, one of three brothers rescued from the rubble of his collapsed home after a 4.0-magnitude quake hit the Italian resort island.
(Italian Firefighters, HO/ANSA via AP)</p>
Rescuers carry Ciro, 11, on a stretcher, one of three brothers rescued from the rubble of his collapsed home after a 4.0-magnitude quake hit the Italian resort island. (Italian Firefighters, HO/ANSA via AP)</p>

Three children from a single Italian family were pulled from the rubble of their home after a painstaking 16-hour rescue operation following an earthquake that struck the the popular Mediterranean resort island of Ischia.

The Toscano family's happy ending brought cheers from the dozens of firefighters who worked through the night to extricate the two boys and their infant brother, trapped alone for hours after their father was rescued and their pregnant mother managed to free herself from their collapsed apartment in the hard-hit town of Casamicciola.

''I don't know how to define it if not a miracle," the boys' grandmother, Erasma De Simone, said after the family was reunited at a hospital. ''We were all dead, and we are reborn."

Though relatively minor in magnitude, the 4.0-magnitude quake Monday night killed two people, injured another 39 and displaced some 2,600 people in Casamicciola and the neighboring town of Lacco Ameno on the northern end of the island.

Rescuers hailed the courage of the older boys, who spent 14 and 16 hours respectively waiting to be freed, talking with firefighters all the while, eventually receiving water and a flashlight. One official credited the older boy, 11-year-old Ciro, with helping save his 8-year-old brother, Mattias, by pushing him out of harm's way under a bed.

The boys' grandmother described Ciro as shaken by the ordeal. While Mattias was scared, he also ''was sorry because he lost the money in his piggy bank, and lost his toys," she told the ANSA news agency.

The baby, 7-month-old Pasquale, was in the kitchen in a playpen, and the first to be rescued around 4 a.m., seven hours after the quake struck.

Firefighters said reaching the two older boys was more delicate, requiring them to create a hole in the collapsed ceiling without destabilizing the structure.

Mattias was extricated first, emerging seven hours after his baby brother, covered in cement dust in his underwear as he clung to firefighters. He was quickly strapped onto a stretcher and whisked into an ambulance.

Finally came Ciro, who rescuers said kept the conversation going throughout the ordeal even though one of his legs was immobilized by the rubble.

Despite their ordeal, hospital officials say the three children were in remarkably good condition. The two older boys were being treated for dehydration and Ciro for a fracture to his right foot. They were expected to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday.

"For three children saved from the rubble, we have witnessed a true miracle. They are miraculously healthy," said Virginia Scafarto, director of the island's Rizzoli hospital.

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