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Last Updated: Wednesday April 08 2009 14:19 GMT

Maddy in Italy to report on quake

Maddy in Italy

A huge earthquake struck Italy in the early hours of Monday morning.

More than a hundred people were killed and thousands were left homeless by the quake.

Maddy travelled to Italy to find out more...


Wednesday 8 April - 3.00pm

We spent our last day in L'Aquila visiting more camps. They are getting bigger by the minute.

Maddy interviews some kids
Maddy interviews some kids

Since last night's aftershocks nobody wants to take the risk of being inside buildings that are in danger of collapsing.

The first camp we checked out is now home to 370 people. As well as families, many emergency workers are sleeping here too. Some have travelled hundreds of miles from other parts of Italy to help this city.

Tent city

Between them they're sharing just 20 toilets and 20 showers.

Maddy and a portable toilet
Maddy and a portable toilet

There are two tents where officials have sent up temporary kitchens. We watched them whipping up a chicken and tomato dish for today's menu.

But not all the sites have such good facilities. At a camp on the other side of L'Aquila we noticed that tents were squashed much closer together. Children we spoke to complained that they'd only been given cold food. We spotted officials handing out pasta just before we left though.

Many of the families living on this camp come from the most damaged parts of L'Aquila, as well as nearby villages flattened by the quake. One boy from Onna came to show us a photo of his house that had appeared in an newspaper.

Tragic tale

The ceiling had caved in and the lounge was full of rubble. His seven-year-old brother died after he got trapped under bricks. I thought it was really brave of him to tell us his story.

Later on we headed back into the city centre where diggers, fire engines and rescue trucks are surrounding some of the collapsed buildings.

Beyond the main roads everywhere is silent and empty. Houses, schools and offices have all been sealed off with red and white tape to stop anyone entering them.

So many buildings are now incredibly weak because of the earthquake. It will be a long while until people can walk these streets again."

Maddy

Tuesday 7 April - 8pm

"It's been a scary evening. Just as darkness fell around the city I experienced what's called an earthquake 'aftershock'. That's when tremors or waves from the original quake start shooting through the ground, hours or even days after the first disaster.

I was watching some of the interviews we'd filmed for Newsround in a special technical van for journalists who work for the BBC.

Our cameraman Darryl filming
Our cameraman Darryl filming

All of a sudden I felt the earth shudder below me and I was pushed to one side by the force of the vibrations. For a few moments the van started rocking.

Everything went quiet for a moment. People stopped talking and you could hear the sound of buildings crumbling in the distance. Then people started gasping and shouting.

Within minutes the entire street was packed with soldiers and police. Fire engines and ambulances started zipping down the road again. Officials wanted to make sure people were safe.

Things eventually calmed down, and we were able to return to our hotel. But most of the families living here were nowhere near as lucky.

Temporary camps

Hundreds of them are living in temporary camps. Some of their homes have been destroyed, others have been forced to go there because they live on streets where officials are worried that pavements and buildings could collapse. Their neighbourhoods have been weakened by the earthquake and the aftershocks.

The rubble
The rubble

Earlier in the day I went to visit one of the camps just outside L'Aquila.

The tents are made of blue canvas with around eight beds are squashed inside each one. They can get really hot and sticky, too. But the families living there say they are just so happy to have somewhere to shelter.

Lucky to be safe

Many have been staying in their cars because they are too frightened to be indoors, in case there are more aftershocks. Others have been sleeping outside, even in the rain.

Children in the camp told me they've found the last few days really frightening, but they know how lucky they are to be alive."

Maddy

Tuesday 7 April - 4pm

"We finally arrived in L'Aquila around 10am this morning.

Some roads are still blocked by rubble from buildings that were crushed by the earthquake or they've been smashed apart by the vibrations, so we had to queue to find a safe route into the city.

It's up in the mountains and the winding road that leads you there goes past lush green forest. You can also spot snow-capped mountains in the distance.

A map of Italy

The moment you get into L'Aquila the atmosphere changes, and it's clear just how much devastation the quake has brought this region.

Fire officers, police medics and government workers are buzzing around the streets. You can't go more than a few minutes without hearing sirens. Helicopters are hovering above.

Quake chaos

As you get closer to the city centre you can spot cracks in some of the buildings. Further in you get to the real chaos. We found a five story block of flats that had been smashed to the ground.

Elsewhere walls had collapsed onto people's driveways, and the holes in some of the pavements were so big they looked like craters on the moon!

All day diggers have been sifting through the rubble to see if anyone is still trapped underneath. Sniffer dogs have been helping out too but so far we haven't seen them find anyone."

Maddy

Tuesday 7 April - 6am

Maddy at Rome Airport

"We flew into Italy's capital, Rome, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, landing around the same time as the earthquake had struck on Monday, while people were supposed to be sleeping.

Rome is almost 100km from the centre of the quake but people living in the city were still woken up by the tremors, including two of my Italian cousins, who are 11 and 8 years old.

Windows rattled, roofs clattered and walls shook from the vibrations. But luckily no-one here was hurt.

It's a different story three hours drive away in the city of L'Aquila and the towns and villages that surround it. Thousands of homes there have completely collapsed.

Many people have been injured, and there are fears some are still stuck under the rubble.

I'm heading there to take a look for myself."

Maddy