Rescuers end search for earthquake survivors

 

Italian rescuers have ended their desperate search for survivors after recovering the last of the bodies from a school reduced to rubble by an earthquake which killed 26 children, their teacher and two elderly women.

An entire class of six-year olds was killed when theirschool collapsed during a Halloween party as the first earthquake hit yesterday morning.

Two elderly women also died when theirhomes collapsed, bringing the death toll to 29.

Another strong earthquake rocked south-central Italy thisafternoon, shaking lampposts and sparking panic in the town of San Giuliano Di Puglia.

Residents remain on edge as fresh tremors toppled some damaged housesand injured three people, including one of the school rescueworkers.

"It's too much for one town to take, I don't know what we'regoing to do tonight," Elena, a 62-year-old resident of thefarming town of 1,200, said.

Witnesses said the latest, long-lasting tremor shook the whole town and the national geophysics institute confirmed that a new "strong" earthquake had hit the area, but could not immediately say what the magnitude was.

Yesterday's earthquake, registering 5.4 on the Richter scale, was the strongest tremor to hit Italy since 1997.

Today's quake came as rescue workers in the mountainside village were working for the second day in the hope of finding those still missing after the quake struck yesterday during a school Hallowe'en party.

This morning, the body of a young girl was pulled from the ruins of the school and one hospital official said they had little hope finding alive the other children and a teacher still believed trapped. One woman has lost three of her children, a volunteer worker said.

Rescue workers had managed to pull out two children alive in the small hours of the morning, including one called Angelo that the rescue workers had been trying to reach for hours after he was discovered with his feet pinned under a concrete slab, police said. Most of the victims were primary school children aged seven or eight.

The school complex collapsed when the quake rocked the Campobasso region in the morning, causing buildings to topple in San Guiliano, an historic hilltop village of 1,200 residents.

All the victims in the school were in the old part of the building, built in 1953.

Agencies