Aftershocks rattle Italian quake zone; toll rises to 250

From The Associated Press:

PESCARA DEL TRONO, Italy (AP) — Aftershocks in central Italy rattled residents and rescue workers alike Thursday, as crews worked to find more earthquake survivors and the country anguished over its repeated failure to protect ancient towns and modern cities from seismic catastrophes.

A day after a shallow quake killed 250 people and leveled three small towns, a 4.3 magnitude aftershock sent up plumes of thick gray dust in the hard-hit town of Amatrice. The aftershock crumbled already cracked buildings, prompted authorities to close roads and sent another person to the hospital.

It was only one of the more than 470 temblors that have followed Wednesday’s pre-dawn quake.

Firefighters and rescue crews using sniffer dogs worked in teams around the hard-hit areas in central Italy, pulling chunks of cement, rock and metal from mounds of rubble where homes once stood. Rescuers refused to say when their work would shift from saving lives to recovering bodies, noting that one person was pulled alive from the rubble 72 hours after the 2009 quake in the Italian town of L’Aquila.

“We will work relentlessly until the last person is found, and make sure no one is trapped,” said Lorenzo Botti, a rescue team spokesman.

Worst affected by the quake were the tiny towns of Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto, 25 kilometers (15 miles) further to the east.

Many were left homeless by the scale of the destruction, their homes and apartments declared uninhabitable. Some survivors, escorted by firefighters were allowed to go back inside homes briefly Thursday to get essential necessities for what will surely be an extended absence.

“Last night we slept in the …

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