By Steve Scherer and Flavia Krause-Jackson
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
ONNA, Italy, April 7 -- The death toll in Italy's deadliest earthquake in almost three decades exceeded 200 as aftershocks continued to rattle the region.
Monday's quake in the province of L'Aquila, about 60 miles northeast of Rome, left at least 235 people dead, with 15 still missing, officials said. One thousand people were injured, 100 of them seriously.
A 98-year-old grandmother was found alive Tuesday after being buried for 30 hours. A young girl was pulled alive from rubble after 42 hours, according to the ANSA news agency. Four students were found dead in the rubble of a collapsed dormitory building, Sky TG24 television reported.
The government said Monday night that reconstruction will cost about 1.2 billion euros, or almost $1.6 billion. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the cost would be "several billion euros."
"We have the resources needed for reconstruction, including European funds, and we need to move quickly to avoid the problems of wasteful or slow spending that we've seen in past interventions," Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said.
About 100 people have been pulled from the wreckage, and Berlusconi said rescue efforts would continue for 48 more hours.
In the hard-hit town of Onna, east of L'Aquila city, Daniele Brunetto, 64, was rescued from his balcony by neighbors, along with his dog Tyson, named after the American boxer Mike Tyson. Brunetto said he was born in New Jersey and moved to Italy 30 years ago. Brunetto, his T-shirt crusted with dried blood, his head bandaged where he had been struck by falling plaster and concrete, choked back tears and called himself lucky.
"Many others -- my friends and my family members -- died," including two teenage nieces, he said. His daughter Valentina, 28, and her mother, Lucia Colajanni, 62, were on the third floor of their building when half of their house collapsed. They climbed down a cable strung from the window with the help of neighbors.
"We lost our house, but we kept our lives," Colajanni said as she held her left arm in a sling.
Falling temperatures, rain and aftershocks that threatened to cause further building collapses complicated efforts overnight as rescuers used dogs to try to find those buried across the region, which has a population of 300,000. Temperatures fell to 39 degrees in L'Aquila, dipping to near freezing at higher altitudes.
The area has been rattled by more than 200 tremors since the main 6.3-magnitude quake Monday. On Tuesday evening, a tremor measured by the U.S. Geological Survey at 5.6 sent people fleeing from damaged buildings in L'Aquila and shook buildings in Rome, the Associated Press reported.
Emergency services erected hundreds of tents, with beds for more than 4,000 people, and hotels in the area made more than 13,000 beds available to survivors from a quake that left at least 17,000 people unable to return to their homes.
Thirty-five countries, including the United States, have offered aid, but Berlusconi has declined the support for now, saying Italy could handle the disaster.