Italy Quake Toll Mounts The death toll from Italy's worst earthquake in nearly three decades climbed Tuesday to 207 as more bodies were recovered. Rescuers are now reaching outlying communities in the mountainous region. The worst-hit village, called Onna, has been all but leveled.
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Italy Quake Toll Mounts

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Italy Quake Toll Mounts

Italy Quake Toll Mounts

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Rescue workers in Italy found a few more survivors today from Monday's earthquake. That, as the death toll rose to more than 220 with about 50 people still missing. Thousands have been left homeless, living in makeshift camps or sleeping in their cars.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports now from one of the places hit hardest by that quake.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BARKING DOG)

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: The village of Onno is only six miles from the Abruzzi regional capital L'Aquila. Hardly a house is left standing. What were once two to three-story buildings are now piles of rubble, their terracotta roof tiles shattered on the ground.

NORRIS: Red Cross, firemen, soldiers, Carabinieri and ordinary volunteers.

Workers using heavy machinery and specially trained dogs continue to look for survivors. Until yesterday, this was a hamlet with 350 inhabitants. So far, 40 bodies have been extracted.

Unidentified Woman: (Italian spoken)

POGGIOLI: This woman, a member of the national forestry guard, says Onno is the village that has suffered the greatest damage in this earthquake, Italy's worst in three decades. Onno is a scene of devastation in the midst of a bucolic landscape, with horses grazing in rolling pastures and the sun glinting off snowcapped mountain peaks.

It's in the surrounding fields that Onno survivors are now camping out, some in tents, most sleeping in their own cars. Their anxiety heightened by the continuous strong aftershocks. An elderly woman, Dora Palguchi(ph) sits in a daze still recovering from the cold nighttime temperatures.

DORA PALGUCHI: (Italian Spoken)

POGGIOLI: This has been such a calamity. We can't sleep. We can't eat. There's so much pain, she says. So many young people, boys and girls, only in their teens, all of them dead.

Near Dora is her relative, 33-year-old Mirco Palguchi(ph). He and his parents survived the collapse of their home by jumping from the rooftop to the rubble below. Next door, though, his grandmother and his aunt were not so lucky. They were found dead in their beds.

MIRCO PALGUCHI: (Italian Spoken)

POGGIOLI: I lost so many of my friends, he says. Onno is a small village. Here, we're all like relatives and we all lost everything. The survivors tell similar stories, how they were lucky to wake up in time and flee their crumbling homes. This is what happened to Lou Pascoluchi(ph), a man who lived for 43 years in the U.S. before returning to his homeland three years ago.

LOU PASCOLUCHI: I grabbed my pants and I started going down the steps, but there was no steps. It was all rubble. I went down the first flight, went through the passageway and it was like two and a half, three feet high, all the stuff from the roof. The damage is unbelievable.

POGGIOLI: And yet, Onno's homeless residents refuse to leave the area. They are clinging to the hope that the village will return someday as it was. But Norbeto Marconi(ph), a member of the fire brigade that is assisting in the rescue effort, says there's nothing in Onno that can be salvaged. It will have to be leveled before it can be reborn.

NORBERTO MARCONI: (Italian Spoken)

POGGIOLI: The village must be rebuilt, he says. People must have their homes, their identity, their roots, their land. This is the way it should be.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi returned for a second visit to the earthquake area today. He said at least 100 of the 1,500 injured people are in serious condition and that some are still missing. Berlusconi said the rescue efforts will continue for two more days until it is certain, he said, that there is no one else alive.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, L'Aquila.

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