Italy earthquake: Tales of survival

Rescue and emergency services personnel carry away a survivor on a stretcher in Amatrice (24 August 2016) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescue teams are frantically working to pull survivors from the rubble of quake-hit areas

As the effort continues to find people buried in the Italian earthquake, extraordinary tales of survival have emerged. The Italian fire service said on Thursday said that so far about 215 people had been pulled from the rubble.


Image copyright AP
Image caption Giorgia's dramatic rescue was a morale boost for exhausted rescue workers

Children saved

It is Wednesday evening, about 17 hours after the quake struck, and fire fighters hear a faint noise beneath the rubble of the quake-hit town of Pescara del Tronto.

"You can hear something under here. Quiet, quiet," one rescue worker says.

The relief team soon discover that the buried person is a child aged about 10 called Giorgia, who has been trapped under the debris since the quake struck.

As they frantically dig to release her, they offer the child words of encouragement: "Come on, Giorgia, come on, Giorgia."

Cheers break out when she is eventually pulled out. Sadly, however, Giorgia's sister was reported to have been killed.


The nuns of Amatrice

Image copyright AP
Image caption A nun in the courtyard of a damaged convent in Amatrice
Image copyright AP
Image caption Nuns who survived were lucky to escape their razed convent with only cuts and bruises

The quake flattened much of Sister Marjana Lleshi's convent in the town of Amatrice. But she and two other nuns - along with an elderly woman - managed to escape just in time.

In the early part of the quake, she told the BBC, the nuns took refuge by heading under a table.

But when it became apparent that their lives would be in grave danger if they stayed where they were, the momentous decision was made to make a run for it.

"We saved each other, we took each other's hands while it was falling apart, and we ran," she said. "We ran and we survived."

But Sister Marjana - from Albania - lamented that three other nuns and four elderly women from another part of the convent are yet to be accounted for.

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Media captionSister Marianna: "I went outside to ask for help, but no-one heard me"

'Evil murmur'

A Polish woman who survived the earthquake says she will never forget the "evil murmur" of the tremor.

Ewa Szwajak told Polish TVN24 how she and her husband were woken in Amatrice by tremors and a "terrible noise" and escaped through a balcony with her four-year-old son.

"We knew it was an earthquake. I will remember till the end of my life this noise, the evil murmur of moving walls," she said.

She said her neighbours and their 13-year-old grandson did not survive.


Bravo the guard dog refuses to leave his post

Bravo the injured guard dog stubbornly refused to leave the scene of his collapsed home near Amatrice, La Stampa (in Italian) reported.

It reported that when police entered the premises where Bravo lived on Thursday, he remained true to his training and growled to fend them off.

Earlier Bravo's owners had been pulled from the rubble.

Officers were eventually able to win the dog over, the newspaper reported, and he was taken away to receive treatment for a serious leg injury.


Pensioner's indignity amid the suffering

Elsewhere in Amatrice, the plight of an 80-year-old woman trapped in the rubble on Wednesday was highlighted by the AP news agency.

Rescuers had to persuade her to urinate where she was rather than wait until she got home as they were not in a position to get her out quickly enough. A ranger is quoted as telling her: "Listen, I know it's not nice to say but if you need to pee, you just do it."

The woman was later taken to the Ascoli Piceno hospital. Her 47-year-old daughter, who lived with her, was killed, the agency reported.


Monica's story

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The quake provided few sanctuaries for people desperate to find somewhere safe

Monica, a survivor from the tourist town of Amatrice, described her shocked response when a 4.5-magnitude aftershock rattled the area early on Thursday morning.

"We were sleeping in the car and there were shocks all night," she told AGI news. "When the biggest one came, the car started moving and shaking.

"But what have we got to lose now? We have lost our house. So many friends and family are dead. We have lost everything, even our fear."

Another survivor in Amatrice told the AP news agency on Wednesday how she hid underneath her pillow as the quake struck.

"On one side, the whole wall fell but did not hit me," Maria Gianni said.

"On the other side it fell as well and did not hit me, but fell just next to me, very, very close to me, and luckily it didn't hit me. Then the whole ceiling fell on my head, I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn't hit, luckily."

There is no shortage of similar survival stories.

In Pescara del Tronto, Leone, six, and her brother Samuel, four, survived thanks to their grandmother placing them under a bed and covering them with her body, Ansa.it reported.

She suffered multiple fractures and is now in hospital.


'So much destruction'

La Repubblica photo journalist Paolo Brera said the utter devastation caused by the earthquake was comparable with the 2009 L'Aquila quake, which killed more than 300 people in the Abruzzo region. But even so he saw a steady stream of survivors.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Rescuers say the chance of finding more survivors recedes as each hour goes by

"I have seen lots of people being taken from the rubble," he said.

"There is just so much destruction. Overnight, people [in Pescara del Tronto] stayed in a big camp on the edge of the village. There were perhaps 100 of them, some from the village itself, others who had come down to search for family members and people from surrounding areas who were too scared to sleep in their houses with all the tremors still going on."


Plight of L'Aquila quake survivor

Among the victims in the small towns and villages in the mountainous area where the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche meet is Martina Turco.

She survived the deadly 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila and moved away from there after the experience, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

But tragically her 18-month-old toddler, Marisol Piermarini, died in the latest quake.

Ms Turco is now being treated in hospital after being pulled from the rubble in the village of Arquata del Tronto, Ansa said.

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