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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 10:15 GMT
Boy escapes from quake tomb
dawn
Grief was mixed with relief as dawn broke
An eight-year-old boy has been rescued after being buried alive for 16 hours in the Italian earthquake disaster.


He kept screaming 'Help me' - it was terrible

Rescuer Arturo Pierro
Rescuers had been searching through the night amid the twisted wreckage of the school in San Giuliano di Puglia where at least 23 people died, almost all of them children aged seven and eight.

Then as dawn broke they heard the boy's cries.

rescuers
Rescuers worked throughout the night before the breakthrough
"He was practically covered in rocks and his elbow was touching another kid who was already dead," said Arturo Pierro, who laboured for hours to rescue Angelo.

"He kept screaming 'help me.' It was terrible," Pierro, who works for the Civil Protection Service, told Reuters.

"But little by little we managed to pull the debris away. At the end there was great joy."

Cries for help

Angelo escaped the destruction of his school with a dislocated shoulder and two broken legs and has been taken to a local hospital.


When I saw my mother I died of joy

Survivor Lillia

Overnight fresh rescue crews, with sniffer dogs, arrived on the scene to relieve exhausted colleagues.

Lillia was one of the children pulled from the rubble of the school. After she had been taken to hospital, she described what had happened.

villager
Anguish shows on the face of a villager
"We were writing, doing a workshop in Pinocchio," she said.

"The teacher got up and then the school shook.

"Some builders pulled us out. There are 15 of us in the class.

"Near me there was only the teacher and a friend. I could not hear the others. We did not talk to each other. We only called out for help."

"When I saw my mother I died of joy."

'In shock'

Applause burst from the tense crowd after one difficult rescue late on Thursday.

Residents cried, "Giovanni! Giovanni!" when the little boy was brought out on a stretcher.

"As soon as he came out he called me 'Papi' like he always does," the boy's father told RAI state television.

The earthquake, measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, was felt throughout the region.

Buildings in the historic town of Campobasso collapsed as the tremors shook the region.

"I could feel the earth literally moving under my feet. The lamps were swinging from the buildings. People were in shock," said Gianfranco di Ruta, a local bar owner.

But it was in the village of San Giuliano di Puglia, the scene of the school collapse, that the effects were worst felt.

Several buildings were damaged in the village of about 2,000 people.

The small farming village, north-east of Naples, has had its gymnasium turned into a mortuary.

The ANSA news agency said 3,000 people in the region were left homeless, unable or unwilling to sleep in their damaged homes.


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