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Quake survivors erupt in anger at funeral plan, gov't relents

Published:Tuesday | August 30, 2016 | 8:00 AM

ROME (AP):

Italian quake survivors rebelled in anger Monday over the government's plan to hold a state funeral for their loved ones in an airport hangar in a distant town and let them watch it on screens in their emergency tent camp.

One relative of seven-year-old twins who perished in central Italy's August 24 quake was so upset by the announcement he could barely speak, holding up seven fingers when explaining how old the children were. The mayor of Amatrice, the hardest-hit of the three medieval towns flattened by the quake, was also upset.

Sensing a public relations disaster, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi's government quickly reversed course, and he said the latest state funeral will take place Tuesday in the devastated Apennines hill town.

So far, 231 of the quake's 292 victims have been found in Amatrice, with the death toll rising by two Monday afternoon when two bodies were extracted from rubble.

The bodies of some 10 people, including that of the town's baker, are believed to be still buried under the rubble of hundreds of buildings that collapsed, many reduced to piles of stones. Hundreds of people were injured.

 

CLAIMING LOVED ONES

 

Last week, a stream of ambulances brought more than 100 victims in body bags from Amatrice and another hard-hit town, Accumoli, to the airport at Rieti, 65 kilometre's (40 miles) away. There they were being kept in refrigerated big-rig trucks parked in the hangar. Some relatives who live elsewhere in Italy had sent hearses with coffins to claim their loved one's body for funerals elsewhere.

But nearly 80 bodies that families hoped would be buried near Amatrice or Accumoli remained at the hangar, and now, after the government relented, the corpses were going to be transferred back to the town.

Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told a crowd that Renzi had just spoken with him by phone. "He granted the people's appeal," the mayor said.