Rescuers have been scrambling through the debris all night, after a day of finding survivors and bodies; now it is feared few more survivors will be found.
There is little left of the 13th-century mountain city. L’Aquila is devastated, as are many of its surrounding villages in Abruzzo. While there were some stories of people being plucked alive from the ruins, it has mostly been a story of heartbreak.
“There was this very loud noise, and we immediately ran outside. There was a huge cloud of smoke, and everyone was outside, crying. It was terrible,” said one woman.
Fire services say they have recovered 100 people alive, but there are many injured. The local hospital, recently completed and certified earthquake-proof, has moved outdoors as it too was badly damaged. Patients have been moved to other hospitals nearby, and its near collapse is just part of a growing clamour over a lack of warnings, slow response, and poor buildings;
“We have had tremors since December, but we kept on being told there was no problem, that there would be no problem. Nobody tried to warn us; on the contrary, we were told to stay put in our homes as long as possible, “ said one resident.
The region is well-known for straddling a major geological faultline. Only at the end of last month there was a government meeting to consider the latest data. It decided the risk was not great enough to justify evacuation. The decision taken then appears to have been the wrong one.