L’AQUILA, Italy – Rescue workers using bare hands and buckets searched frantically for students believed buried in a wrecked dormitory after Italy’s deadliest quake in nearly three decades struck this medieval city before dawn Monday, killing more than 150 people, injuring 1,500 and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
The 6.3-magnitude earthquake buckled both ancient and modern buildings in and around L’Aquila, snuggled in a valley surrounded by the snowcapped Apennines’ tallest peaks.
It also took a severe toll on the centuries-old castles and churches in the mountain stronghold dating from the Middle Ages, and the Culture Ministry drew up a list of landmarks that were damaged, including collapsed bell towers and cupolas.
The quake, centered near L’Aquila about 70 miles northeast of Rome, struck at 3:32 a.m. Monday, followed by a series of aftershocks that continued into today.
Firefighters with dogs and a crane worked feverishly to reach people trapped in fallen buildings, including a dormitory of the University of L’Aquila, where a half-dozen students were believed trapped inside.
Amid aftershocks, survivors hugged one another, prayed quietly or tried to call relatives. Residents covered in dust pushed carts of clothes and blankets that they had thrown together before fleeing their homes.
It was Italy’s deadliest quake since Nov. 23, 1980, when one measuring 6.9-magnitude hit southern regions, leveling villages and killing 3,000.
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