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1976: More bodies found after Italy quake
Italy's worst ever earthquake has killed more than 550 people and left 80,000 homeless.

At least 1,000 people were injured when the quake struck the northern region of Friuli last night, affecting 11 villages near the Austrian and Yugoslav borders.

A government spokesman said as many as 1,000 may have been killed. It is likely the death toll will rise as rescue workers find more bodies under the rubble of fallen buildings.

We just haven't got enough coffins
Cemetery worker at Friuli
The local military and Red Cross are on the scene. They are due to be joined by rescue workers from Venice and Trieste.

Officials from the affected towns are appealing for medicine and emergency lights for hospitals. American army units in the area have flown in equipment and medical staff by helicopter and flown out the injured.

Moved to tears

President Giovanni Leone and the Interior Minister, Francesco Cossiga, visited the earthquake zone by helicopter. They were moved to tears when they spoke to the injured at a hospital in the small town of Maiano, 10 miles (16km) north-west of Udine.

The hill town of Gemona, further north, was almost flattened, killing at least 100 people. A cemetery worker told reporters: "We just haven't got enough coffins."

Inmates of the town's prison tried to scale the walls in their panic to get out but were beaten back by machine-gun fire.

This last quake, which measured 6.5 on the Richter scale, was by far the strongest of the 23 tremors which began on the night of 5 May. It could be felt in France, West Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia.

Most of the 180,000 people who live in the Friuli region spent the night outdoors for fear of further aftershocks.

The Italian tourist office in London has said that there were no known British casualties.

The Queen has sent a message of sympathy to the Italian Government.

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Watch/Listen
Residents break from clearing rubble
The hill town of Gemona was almost flattened

Report from collective funeral service in Maiano



In Context
The following 12 months saw hundreds more tremors in the region, the largest of which struck in September.

Altogether, the May and September quakes killed 951 people, injured 2,400 and left 45,000 homeless. Damage was estimated at 3,000m.

The Italian government came under strong criticism for allowing red tape to hamper reconstruction of the area.

When Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti visited the region in September, he was greeted with angry protests from refugees who had been living in tents for four months.

Tent cities were - eventually - replaced with 20,000 prefabricated houses.

Using donations from the European Community, the government had spent 250m by the end of 1976 to rebuild the infrastructure of the region and rehouse its inhabitants.

Northern and central Italy are susceptible to earthquakes, with many minor tremors occurring on a regular basis.

Stories From 7 May


 
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