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Italy's quake toll set to rise -

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Italy's quake toll set to rise

The World Today - Tuesday, 7 April , 2009 12:38:00

Reporter: Emma Alberici

PETER CAVE: Now to Italy, where estimates of the death toll from the latest earthquake to hit the
country's central region range from 130-150.

Some reports say another 250 people are still missing.

Most of the dead have been reported in L'Aquila, a mountain city of 68,000 people, where medieval
streets are strewn with rubble and old buildings have crumbled like sand.

Nearby towns have fared even worse, with some reports suggesting they're all but destroyed.

Cold rain and weather are hampering the rescue efforts.

L'Aquila's mayor says that about 100,000 people are now homeless, and around 1,500 have been

Our correspondent Emma Alberici is in the quake zone and joins us on the line now.

Emma, it's the early hours of the morning. Where are you, and how extensive is the damage that
you've seen?

EMMA ALBERICI: Peter, I'm in the centre of L'Aquila, where the epicentre was about seven kilometres
from where I am right now, but you wouldn't know it because right around me houses and apartment
buildings have been completely razed.

I think the extent of the damage has been felt most, actually, in this area, even though this
wasn't where the main effect of the earthquake was felt.

Just driving in here, it's like a ghost town because everyone's been told to evacuate their home
because of fear of aftershocks.

And I was just saying to a colleague that it looks like Mother Nature's bitten great chunks out of
certain buildings; that's exactly what it looks like.

Buildings that are otherwise left standing with great chunks that have been carved out of them, and
others, as you said in your introduction, just completely reduced to rubble.

And I'm actually standing right in front of one - you might hear the noise behind me, the
Caterpillar truck is trying to remove the debris to try and find some, some remaining people who
are trapped inside a building I'm standing in front of right now which has, has almost completely

And meanwhile, right alongside it, two other apartment buildings, four storeys and three storeys,
left virtually unscathed.

PETER CAVE: Emma, you mentioned aftershocks. Have there been many?

EMMA ALBERICI: Yes, well about three hours ago there was one just before we arrived that registered
4.5 on the Richter scale and you know, scared people enormously.

Right up, right up until last night, the people in the town here say they were feeling regular
shocks throughout the month.

In fact, we just felt one then; I'm just getting that confirmed, I thought I was feeling a little
unsteady and Cameron's just come and tapped me on the shoulder and said yes it's confirmed, we've
had another aftershock then.

PETER CAVE: Well, you better stay away from those buildings.

How secure... How is the rescue operation in those worst-hit areas? Are people getting in?

EMMA ALBERICI: Look, it's fairly desperate and quite sad really.

We were just standing nearby some people as we watched this Caterpillar truck go into this
apartment building, with a lady that was in tears.

And I stood alongside her and asked her, you know, what was going on, and she said that her mother
and her brother had not been found in this building.

I spoke to one of the rescue workers, and he said there were 20 people in the four-storey apartment
building when the earthquake struck; 14 people have been retrieved, three of them alive. There are
still six that are unaccounted for.

They've brought in the trucks but up until now they've been clearing the area, in some cases, with
their bare hands to try and not to disturb anything in the hope, in the hope, the desperate hope
that some of these six might be found alive.

But the hopes of that are fading a little unfortunately.

PETER CAVE: Emma Alberici in the centre of the earthquake zone there.