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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 18:54 GMT
New quake hits Italian village
Residents run in fear after Friday's quake
The already grief-stricken villagers had to evacuate
Another strong earthquake has hit the southern Italian village of San Giuliano di Puglia, just a day after 29 people - 26 of whom were children - died when a school collapsed due to a tremor on Thursday.

The Italian authorities have ordered the already distraught villagers to evacuate the area, just as the last bodies from Thursday's disaster were being recovered from the rubble.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

The school collapsed on itself while other buildings were left standing

Enzo Boschi, head of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, said there was a series of aftershocks on Friday, the strongest of which was 5.3 on the Richter scale, nearly as powerful as Thursday's 5.4 quake.

Three people were reported injured in the latest quake, and many people are being treated in the streets for shock.

Entire class dead

Emergency workers have now ended their search for survivors in the rubble of the school.

Firemen, police and civil protection staff are still present in the village, but their main task now is to shepherd the 1,200 inhabitants to tented camps which have been set up in a valley below the town.

Open in new window : Italy quake
Pictures from the scene of the school tragedy

The authorities have declared that their homes are unsafe and out of bounds until further notice.

The school's gym has been turned into a makeshift mortuary - 26 small white coffins have been laid out for the children.

San Giuliano, like my village Colletorto, is a small tight knit community and they may never get over this

Earlier in the day families sat with the coffins, holding on to favourite toys, clothing and photographs.

An entire class of six-year-olds and their teacher, as well as two elderly women, are now known to have died.

Angry questions are being asked about why the school remained opened after earthquake warnings, and why the newly modernised building was destroyed when others nearby were not.

Hopes dashed

Families watching the teams who worked through the night cheered when survivors were found - including two boys found in the early hours of the morning.

Click here to see a map of the affected area

But as dawn came, hopes of finding more survivors faded.

"The bulldozers are moving in and now, I am afraid, there is very little hope," said rescue worker Ernesto Angelotti.

Women waiting by the school
Correspondents say everyone in the village will know at least one victim

Elsewhere, some of the 34 people rescued alive from the school continued to be treated for serious injuries in hospital.

In Rome, the Pope said a "heartfelt prayer" for the victims.

The BBC's David Willey, reporting from the village, said the grief in San Giuliano was overpowering, with a stunned silence replacing the shrieks and wails which accompanied the desperate search for survivors throughout the night.

Many questions

But questions about why the tragedy struck are beginning to be asked.

The school - the most badly damaged building in the village - was constructed nearly 50 years ago and had a concrete second floor added recently.

Recent Italian earthquakes
1997 - 13 die and 40,000 homeless as roof of Assisi basilica collapses
1980 - 2,500 killed and 7,500 injured in Naples

Attention is focussing on building standards, and whether the school should have remained open after earlier, smaller, quakes were felt - when others in the area remained closed.

Italy has declared a state of emergency to ensure funding is swiftly available, and to allow the army to help in recovery operations in the Molise region, where some 3,000 people have lost their homes.

Seismologists had already been monitoring the region after this week's eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily, Europe's biggest active volcano.

Italy has a long history of earthquakes but is continually being taken off-guard by them as the fault lines are hidden and difficult to observe.

Map of Italy showing epicentre of earthquake

Click here to return

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"We were with rescue workers at the school ruins when a powerful tremor struck"

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See also:

01 Nov 02 | Europe
30 Oct 02 | Europe
27 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
29 Aug 01 | Europe
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