Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 12:47 UK

Aftershocks hamper Italian rescue

A member of a Spanish rescue team and a dog search through rubble in L’Aquila, 8 April
Hope of finding survivors is fading as the rescue effort enters a third day

Fresh aftershocks have rattled earthquake-hit central Italy, killing at least one more person and hampering the search for survivors.

The latest tremor struck at 0627 local time (0427 GMT) in L'Aquila, epicentre of Monday's 6.2-magnitude quake.

The aftershocks brought down masonry from already damaged buildings and one tremor was felt as far away as Rome.

As the desperate search for survivors continues, officials have raised the death toll from the quake to 250.

Another 100 people are reported to be in a serious condition and some 20,000 people were made homeless.

In other developments:

We have no money, no documents - we have nothing
Woman in tent camp

  • The first of the funerals for the victims of the earthquake is being held on Wednesday and is taking place outside L'Aquila for safety reasons
  • A mass state funeral and national day of mourning will be held on Friday, officials said
  • The Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI is planning to visit the area soon after Easter Sunday
  • The Civil Protection agency says 11 recovered bodies have yet to be identified, and that 15 people remain missing.

'Camping weekend'

The BBC's Dominic Hughes in L'Aquila said that, once again, rescue teams worked through the night in an effort to find any survivors under the rubble of the city's shattered buildings.

Dominic Hughes
The BBC's Dominic Hughes reports from L'Aquila:

We had a very strong aftershock last night. It was very frightening.

It was a very strange experience - a deep, deep elemental rumbling in the ground, and then masonry started to fall all around us, so everyone ran away from the buildings.

The ground really started to move beneath your feet. It was like a wave was passing beneath your feet and it lasted for 10 or 15 seconds.

But the emphasis of the rescue operation will slowly shift to salvage and clearance, our correspondent says.

As overnight temperatures dropped to 4-5C, thousands spent a second night in tent camps around L'Aquila, the capital of the central Abruzzo region.

Marco Dolponi from Italy's Civil Protection Agency, said it could be a fortnight before people were given alternative accommodation.

"We are trying to get them to the hotels on the seaside, for example. But the time to let them come back to the home is difficult to say."

He added that tremors were continuing and it was difficult to know when they would end.

At least seven strong shocks hit the region during the night, waking people from their sleep in the tent shelters.

Quake woman saved after 42 hours

"It was very frightening," said Costanza, a Romanian woman at a camp on the outskirts of L'Aquila.

"We have no money, no documents - we have nothing. I just can't wait to get home."

But Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the experience was "like a weekend of camping" during a visit to one of the camps.

"They have everything they need...they have medicines, they have hot meals and there is shelter at night," he said in an interview with a German television station.

"It's a like a weekend of camping and then we need to reach more concrete solutions."

Rescue to continue

Rescue efforts were given a boost overnight, when a 20-year-old woman was pulled alive from the rubble after being buried for 42 hours.

BBC map

Earlier on Tuesday, searchers pulled 98-year-old Maria D'Antuono unharmed from her collapsed home in L'Aquila. She told Italy's Ansa news agency that she had kept at her crochet while awaiting rescue.

Mr Berlusconi said earlier the operation would continue through Thursday until rescuers were certain that no living person remains under the rubble.

He said some 7,000 police, soldiers and other emergency service personnel and volunteers are taking part in the operation.

"We're a bit tired," Fabrizio Curcio, director of the civil protection emergency bureau told AFP.

"But frankly, fatigue is not a major concern... We're running on adrenaline. There's still a long road ahead of us."

Between 3,000 and 10,000 buildings are thought to have been damaged in L'Aquila, making the 13th-Century city of 70,000 uninhabitable for some time.

About 150 people have been pulled alive from the rubble.

The head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocha, said 20,000 people were homeless and it could be months or even years before they were all back in their own homes.

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