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Bulldozers Work to Clear Out Italy’s Quake-Hit Towns

Bulldozers Work to Clear Out Italy’s Quake-Hit TownsBulldozers Work to Clear Out Italy’s Quake-Hit Towns

Bulldozers with huge claws and other heavy equipment clanked down the streets of Italy’s quake-devastated town of Amatrice on Sunday, pulling down dangerously overhanging ledges and clearing rubble as investigators tried to figure out if negligence in enforcing building codes added to the high death toll.

In addition to killing 291 people and injuring hundreds, Wednesday’s 6.2 magnitude quake flattened three medieval towns in central Italy, destroying not only private homes but also churches and other centuries-old cultural treasures, AP reported.

Amatrice bore the brunt of destruction with 230 fatalities and a town turned to rubble. Eleven others died in nearby Accumoli and 50 more in Arquata del Tronto, 16 km north of Amatrice.

Overnight was relatively calm, the first since the quake struck without strong aftershocks. In all, the region has seen 1,820 aftershocks, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

On Saturday, mourners prayed, hugged, wept and even applauded as coffins carrying earthquake victims passed by at a state funeral in the town of Ascoli Piceno.

The caskets of 35 people had been brought to a community gym - one of the few structures in the area still intact. The local bishop, Giovanni D’Ercole, celebrated Mass beneath a crucifix he had retrieved from one of the damaged churches.

As all of Italy observed a day of national mourning, D’Ercole urged residents to rebuild their communities. “Don’t be afraid to cry out your suffering - I have seen a lot of this - but please do not lose courage,” D’Ercole said. “Only together can we rebuild our houses and our churches.”

Nobody has been found alive in the ruins since Wednesday, and hopes have vanished of finding any more survivors. The number still missing is uncertain, due to the many visitors seeking a last taste of summer in the Apennine mountains.

Financialtribune.com