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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 09:55 GMT
Italian recovery teams battle on
Rescue teams
Rescue teams work tirelessly into the night

At the kindergarten in San Giuliano di Puglia, one section of wall is displaying a perfect zigzag crack. It is the only part of the school that stands straight. The rest is slumped, smashed debris.

grief-stricken parents at the scene
Parents struggled to remain hopeful
Heavy lifting equipment is towering impotently over the heap of rubble. Men are doing the work instead - lump by lump, bucket by bucketful.

Through the night, from time to time, they stopped. They stood, hands clasped behind their backs, listening for the voices of small children.

One policeman spoke to me, just after he had stumbled off the rubble. Sad to say, he said, all the work is very difficult.

The material is friable and it just crumbles in your hand immediately, as soon as you touch it. You can only remove it a bit a time.

Unanswered questions

The recriminations are beginning. Why did this school collapse when buildings around were damaged but stayed upright?

Did the emergency services go to the wrong town? Should school have been held when there were reports of tremors?

Those questions are for later.

Dr Osvaldo Bruno is leading the paramedic teams and he has more immediate concerns.


Over half the town is uninhabitable and we are terrified of what we'll find when we come to search the rest of the buildings

Dr Osvaldo Bruno
"The younger children were all in the classroom on the ground floor. There is a little to no chance of finding any of them alive".

Just as we were speaking there was a commotion. A boy who had been buried up to his waist had been dug out.

Eight paramedics brought his limp prone form out shrouded in a green canvas sack and rushed him to an ambulance.

But Dr Bruno has further fears.

Parents wait

"The big problem at the moment is the school and you see what condition it is in.

But over half the town is uninhabitable and we are terrified of what we'll find when we come to search the rest of the buildings".

Against a buzz of rescue workers, dirty and heavy-legged, on the far side of the school there's a picture of ageless misery.

This is what this earthquake has done. Parents perched on edges of plastic chairs arranged on the pavements.

Their faces are bloodless. Just a few metres from me is one woman utterly still, her head tilted quizzically, her mouth slightly open, as if waiting for an answer to her question.


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