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Death toll from quake in central Italy reaches 293

ITALIAN police said yesterday that the death toll from the earthquake in central Italy's Abruzzo region has risen to 293 while about 40,000 people were left homeless.

Officials from the Italian Civil Protection Department said rescue efforts were continued Saturday while hopes had been dim for people still beneath the ruins of buildings on the sixth day after the quake, local media reported.

The search for more survivors is due to end today.

Around 24,000 survivors were now living in emergency camps and some 15,000 had been given shelter in hotels.

The local traditional Easter holidays began yesterday. Premier Silvio Berlusconi was set to attend an Easter mass in the worst devastated town of L'Aquila today and visit survivors.

The earthquake, worst in nearly 30 years in Italy, hit the region Monday, destroying nearly 10,000 buildings and leaving some40,000 people homeless.

The Italian government declared Friday a day of national mourning and a national funeral was held in L'Aquila.

The European Union has announced to send technical experts to Italy next week to support the country in assessing the stability of buildings damaged by the strong earthquake.


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