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Aftershocks batter Italy earthquake survivors

AFTERSHOCKS from the earthquake that has killed at least 260 people in central Italy sent new fears through the tent camps that shelter thousands of survivors.

As rescue teams pressed ahead with their searches, some of the almost 28,000 left homeless emerged from tents after spending a second night in chilly mountain temperatures.

"I slept so badly because I kept feeling the aftershocks," said Daniela Nunut at one of the tent camps set up across the city of L'Aquila.

The 46-year Romanian-born woman said she and her companion plan to stay in the tent for now. "What can you do? You can't go into the building."

The magnitude-6.3 quake hit L'Aquila and several towns in central Italy early Monday, leveling buildings and reducing entire blocks to piles of rubble and dust.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said 260 people have died, including 16 children. The premier, speaking in L'Aquila after a third day in the quake area, said nine bodies remained to be identified. He said about 100 injured were in a serious condition.

Berlusconi said looting in the quake zone was on the rise and that the government was looking to increase penalties for the crime. He said details were still being worked out, adding the new penalties would be "very severe."

A funeral for the victims is scheduled for tomorrow morning, and is to be conducted by L'Aquila Bishop Giuseppe Molinari, the premier said. At least one victim's funeral was held yesterday in one of the small villages in the stricken area.

Berlusconi said about 17,700 people left homeless by the quake had found shelter in tent camps set up by authorities. An additional 10,000 people were being housed in hotels along the coast, bringing the overall number of homeless to almost 28,000.

Fifteen people remain missing, officials said.

The ANSA news agency reported that four students trapped in the rubble of a dormitory of the University of L'Aquila had died.

By Tuesday evening, rescue crews gave up painstakingly removing debris from the dormitory by hand and brought in huge pincers that pulled off parts of the roof, balconies and walls, showering debris down.

Since the quake early Monday, some 430 aftershocks have rumbled through.


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