Italy quake toll rises to 250

April 8th, 2009 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

L’Aquila (Italy), April 8 (DPA) Following a night of cold and further misery in central Italy the death count since Monday’s earthquake has risen to 250, authorities said Wednesday.
Officials said the death toll could rise as workers continued to find people buried under buildings which collapsed during the earthquake that registered between 5.8 and 6.2 on the Richter scale.

Strong aftershocks continued to shake the region, making rescue operations difficult.

Eleven of the bodies pulled from the rubble remain unidentified.

Authorities have asked relatives and friends of missing people to gather at a makeshift mortuary located near a shopping mall in the city of L’Aquila to see if they could identify the loved ones among the dead.

Authorities said they were considering a proposal by the city’s archbishop to hold a state funeral for the victims Friday.

People who abandoned their homes in the wake of the tremor suffered further discomfort Tuesday night as temperatures dipped to below five degrees Celsius.

By Wednesday morning, some 2,000 tents were housing 17,000 people, most of whom relocated from L’Aquila’s city centre and neighbouring towns, including Onna and Paganica, all of which were severely damaged by the earthquake.

Another 3,000 people were staying at hotels in other towns of the Abruzzo region, considered safe from the aftershocks which have caused more buildings to crumble in the worst hit areas.

Police also evacuated the 140 inmates held at a prison in L’Aquila overnight.

Among those transferred to other prisons were several high security detainees serving life sentences, including convicted murderers such as mafia boss Salvatore Madonia and Red Brigades terrorist Nadia Desdemona Lioce, the ANSA news agency reported.

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