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Italian rescuers dig with bare hands for survivors

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Rescuers remove a backpack from the rubble of the collapsed school.

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CNN's Chris Burns reports on the earthquake in southern Italy, and on activity on Sicily's Mount Etna. (October 31)
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SAN GIULIANO DI PUGLIA, Italy (CNN) -- Relief crews in southern Italy were clawing through debris early Friday to rescue eight children and one adult from the rubble of a school building that collapsed following a strong earthquake, killing 19 children.

Two other people were killed elsewhere in the village of San Giuliano di Puglia which lies in the region of Molise in southeastern Italy.

The prefect's office in Campobasso, which oversees the region along the Adriatic coast, said nine people were still alive but trapped underneath the debris at the schoolhouse.

They are talking to emergency workers who were using small tools and their bare hands to reach them.

Crews so far have managed to pluck 33 children from the collapsed school.

In all, 19 children -- aged between 6 and 10 years old -- were confirmed killed, as were one man and one woman elsewhere in the village.

About 100 people were admitted to the hospital in Termoli, and 35 were being treated in Larino, the prefect's office said.

Carolyn Bell, a U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman, said the magnitude of the quake was 5.9. She said it was centered 70 miles northeast of Naples and 40 miles west of Foggia.

Sixty-two people -- all students except for four teachers and two janitors -- were at the school, when the quake struck at 11:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m. ET).

Crews had a hard time getting to the children at first because a bridge collapsed. More than 325 firefighters responded in the hard-hit region northeast of Campobasso.

ANSA news agency reported 2,500 homeless in the Molise region. Hospitals in Termoli and Lorino have received patients, some of whom are from the school.

People reported feeling the quake as far away as Naples and other regions, including Campania, Apulia, Abruzzo and parts of Rome.

ANSA said schools were evacuated in at least three towns in the Abruzzo region, as well as in the city of Isernia, about 15 miles from Campobasso.

quake
A boy is rescued from the rubble.

Townspeople said they wondered why the school was the only building to collapse, when other buildings were only cracked or damaged structurally. Aerial footage of the neighborhood showed all the buildings intact except for the school, which was in ruins.

In 1980, an earthquake in the Naples area killed 2,570 people and left 30,000 homeless in the southern Campania and Basilicata regions.

The Campobasso area is far from Sicily's Mount Etna, Europe's largest volcano, which has been jolted awake by a series of earthquakes in the last few days. Volcano specialists say the quakes in Sicily and Campobasso are not related.



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