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Italy Quake Death Toll Jumps to 207; Rescue Efforts Continue

BY Admin  April 7, 2009 at 10:10 AM EDT

Firefighters search through the rubble; AP photo

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi flew over the devastated
area in a helicopter.

“The government is here,” Berlusconi said and
vowed to rebuild a new town for young families. He also promised 30 million
euros, or $40.6 million in aid.

Berlusconi said that rescue efforts for the 15 people
missing would continue for two more days “until it is certain that there
is no one else alive.” One official working at a camp, however, said that
the hopes of finding survivors were slim.

The 6.3 magnitude quake’s epicenter struck near L’Aquila, a
13th-century city of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architectural
treasures northeast of Rome. It was Italy’s worst in three decades.

In L’Aquila, the main town in the Abruzzo region, emergency
efforts searched for residents trapped under rubble. Two buildings in the
city’s suburb of Pettino collapsed following aftershocks.

According to Berlusconi, 100 of the 1,000 injured are in
serious condition and 190 of the people killed in the quake have been identified,
the Associated Press reported. Tens of thousands were left homeless. By early
Tuesday, Italy’s Civil Protection Department plans to set up 7,000 tents but
some residents slept in their cars or stayed with relatives outside the quake
zone.

“Italy is one of the most geologically complex
locations,” said David Applegate, a senior science adviser for earthquake
and geologic hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey on the NewsHour. “Not
only do you have these two giant plates coming, but you also have parts that
are trying to squeeze out to either side. And that’s why you have this big
backbone that’s essentially running straight down the axis.”

Italians whose houses were destroyed in the earthquake woke
up Tuesday morning to face the reality of rebuilding.

“I can’t even bear to think of the future, because I
have no idea what we will do,” said Angela Camon, a resident of L’Aquila.

Other survivors said they would move away from the area.
“I won’t remain here in L’Aquila, I’m far too scared,” said Antoneta
Florentina.