Tears and devastation of the stricken villages
THE ambulanceman said gently: “She’s dead but there are no more body bags so we just have to wait.”
The woman died in her bed, crushed by falling masonry.
Here in the tiny hamlet of Sant’Angelo help had finally arrived. But when rescue crews reached her through the rubble, it was too late for this one villager.
Relatives and friends gathered in tears as they watched her body gently lifted into the ambulance. One scurried away, searching for a driving licence to confirm her identity for the authorities.
The church across the road was only finished a week ago after years of renovation. There was a huge mural of Jesus on the wall. His head and shoulders are now missing.
Just down the valley in the small town of Amatrice was a scene of sheer utter devastation. Building after building completely flattened.
Houses, many of them centuries old – stone buildings that had survived hundreds of quakes – collapsed into rubble.
They are used to quakes in this part of Italy but this one was devastating to dozens of remote villages just a two-hour drive from Rome.
Just outside the earthquake zone tourist spots, restaurants and bars were all operating normally. It was surreal.
We passed 32 ambulances ferrying the injured to hospitals in bigger towns. It was the only clue to the disaster which had happened so near by.
GENTLY A Sant’Angelo villager’s body is lifted into an ambulance