L'AQUILA, Italy (AP) - Strong aftershocks Tuesday sent a fresh
wave of fear across earthquake-shattered central Italy, and rescue
crews pulled a young woman alive from a collapsed building about 42
hours after the main quake struck the mountainous region.
Eleonora Calesini, a 20-year-old student, was found alive in the
ruins of the five-story building in central L'Aquila, said her
grandfather, Renato Calesini, in the seaside town of Mondaini.
"She's safe!" he told The Associated Press, adding that her
father had gone to devastated city in the snowcapped Apennine
mountains to try to locate the student, who wears a hearing aid.
She reportedly had an arm injury but was in good condition
The death toll from Italy's worst earthquake in three decades
climbed to 235, with 15 still missing, civil protection officials
said. The dead included four students trapped in the rubble of a
dormitory of the University of L'Aquila, the ANSA news agency
Rescue crews gave up gingerly removing debris by hand and
brought in huge pincers that pulled off parts of the dorm roof,
balconies and walls, showering debris down.
"Unless there is a miracle, I've been told (by rescuers) that
they probably are dead," university rector Ferdinando Di Orio
A strong aftershock at 7:47 p.m. rained debris on screaming
residents and rescue crews, who ran from the site.
"I want to go home! I want to go home!" screamed a woman
identified only as Patrizia after chunks of facade rained down on
them from a badly cracked building.
Her hands trembled as rescue workers gave her a cup of water.
Her boyfriend, Agostino Paride, 33, an engineer, said they had
driven to L'Aquila from Civitella Rovedo, some 45 miles away, to
bring food and clothes to relatives in a tent camp.
To shelter the homeless against another chilly night in the
mountains, some 20 tent cities sprouted in open spaces around
L'Aquila and surrounding towns. Field kitchens, medical supplies
and clowns with bubbles - to entertain traumatized children - were
Officials estimated Monday that 50,000 people had been left
homeless by the quake. By Tuesday evening, that number was lowered
to between 17,000 and 25,000, because many moved in with friends or
"I don't know how I'll make it," a dazed Pierina Diletti said
as she stood in slippers and her nightgown outside her tent.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who visited one of the encampments,
said an estimated 14,500 people were being sheltered in the blue
Officials said some 10,000 to 15,000 buildings were either
damaged or destroyed in the 26 cities, towns and villages around
L'Aquila, a picturesque city of 70,000. Teams planned to begin
surveying those buildings still standing on Wednesday to see if
residents could move back in.
"The assessment will concern every room, every slit, every
crack," Berlusconi told a news conference, adding that assessments
of the region's prized cultural treasures - churches, monuments and
other historical sites - would begin soon.
Berlusconi surveyed the devastated region by helicopter and said
rescue efforts would continue for two more days - "until it is
certain that there is no one else alive." At least 100 of about
1,000 injured people were in serious condition, he said.
Experts say the vast majority of buildings in the most
vulnerable regions of earthquake-prone Italy don't meet modern
seismic safety standards.
Nearly half of Italy is labeled "dangerous" in terms of
seismic activity, according to a 2008 report by Enzo Boschi,
president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology,
and other Italian geologists and civil protection experts. But only
14 percent of buildings in that vulnerable swath were built to
seismic-safety standards, the report said.
In the seaside town of Pescara, 16 families were sheltered at
the Hotel Ambra, which offered free rooms to quake victims. "They
are a little traumatized," hotel business manager Vincenzo
Traversa said. "It is not a beautiful experience."
So far, 6,500 hotel beds across the Abruzzo region were made
available and 4,000 filled by Tuesday afternoon, said Emilio
Schirato, president of Abruzzo's hotel association. Schirato said
the rooms were made available "spontaneously" by hotel owners as
a gesture of solidarity.
But some people pretending to have lost their homes had sought
to get free hotel rooms, Schirato said. Carabinieri police were
trying to verify that people being housed were in fact deserving,
In L'Aquila and surrounding towns, many took shelter in their
"It was a bad night," said Francesco Marchi, 18, who slept in
his car with his brother in a piazza far from buildings, fearing
falling debris from aftershocks. "It was really cold, but we had
Two buildings in the suburb of Pettino collapsed following one
aftershock, ANSA reported, citing fire officials. No one was
believed to be inside either building.
The ground shook in the nearly leveled town of Onna, about six
miles away, but caused no panic. Onna residents walked around
dazed, clutching whatever heirlooms they had managed to grab before
their homes collapsed.
"We lost 15 members of our family. Babies and children died,"
70-year-old retiree Virgilio Colajanni said as he choked back
tears. Onna had about 300 residents and lost 40 to the quake.
Civil protection Maj. Cristina DiTommaso, who was helping
coordinate the rescue in Onna, said search efforts were complicated
by an unknown number of undocumented immigrants living there. Most
of Italy's illegal immigrants are from Romania, the former
Yugoslavia or northern Africa, and many work in the largely
agricultural area as farm or manual laborers.
While the elderly, children and pregnant women were given
priority at tent camps, others arranged to stay with relatives or
in second homes out of the quake zone.
Ines D'Alessandro, 98, moved to her sister's home in nearby
Sulmona after surviving her second devastating quake. Her first - a
1915 temblor that killed 30,000 people - occurred when she was just
4, ANSA reported.
"It is hard. I cry my heart out for all of these people struck
by this tragedy, but one needs to have courage and I try to give it
to others. I have fought all of my life," D'Alessandro told ANSA.
Six months pregnant, Sandra Padil spent the night in a tent
without any covers as the temperatures dipped to 43 degrees.
"We are calmer out in the open," said Padil, a 32-year-old
Peruvian who has been living in L'Aquila since 1996. "We didn't
have blankets and it was cold, but at least this morning they gave
us breakfast. Let's hope this ends quickly."
The main quake - which struck just after 3:30 a.m. Monday -
registered magnitude 6.3, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Italy's
National Institute of Geophysics, using the Richter scale, put it
It was Italy's deadliest quake since Nov. 23, 1980, when a
6.9-magnitude quake hit southern regions, leveling villages and
killing about 3,000.