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Death toll in Italy quake rises to 250

The death toll in Italy's quake has risen to 250, officials said today, as strong aftershocks cause further fear among residents sheltered in tent camps.

As rescue teams continued searching through the debris for survivors, the homeless emerged from their tents after spending a second night in chilly mountain temperatures.

"I slept so badly because I kept feeling the aftershocks," said Daniela Nunut, speaking at one of the tent camps set up across 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 a pile of rubble and dust.

The Civil Protection said that 250 people have died, including 11 who remained to be identified.

Fifteen people remain missing, Civil Protection officials said.

The dead included four students trapped in the rubble of a dormitory of the University of L'Aquila, the ANSA news agency reported.

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

"Unless there is a miracle, I've been told (by rescuers) that they probably are dead," university rector Ferdinando Di Orio said.

Since the quake Monday, there have been some 430 aftershocks, including some strong ones, said Marco Olivieri of the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology in Rome.

A strong aftershock at 7:47 pm yesterday rained debris on screaming residents and rescue crews, who ran from the site.

Many survivors at the camp said they had been cold during the night as heaters in some of the tents were not working. Some read a newspaper as they lined up for hot coffee or tea and a croissant.

To shelter the homeless against the chilly nights in the mountains, some 20 tent cities have sprouted in open spaces around L'Aquila and surrounding towns. Field kitchens, medical supplies and clowns with bubbles - to entertain traumatized children - were brought in.

Officials estimated Monday that 50,000 people had been left homeless by the quake. By yesterday evening, that number was lowered to between 17,000 and 25,000, because many moved in with friends or relatives.

As rescue workers continued searching through the debris, they pulled a young woman alive from a collapsed building about 42 hours after the main quake struck the mountainous region.

Eleonora Calesini, a 20-year-old student, was found alive yesterday in the ruins of the five-story building in central L'Aquila.

Officials said some 10,000 to 15,000 buildings were either damaged or destroyed in the 26 cities, towns and villages around L'Aquila, a city of 70,000 that is the regional capital of Abruzzo. Teams planned to begin surveying those buildings still standing today to see if residents could move back in.


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