Woman pulled alive from quake rubble

A woman has been pulled alive from the rubble of an apartment building destroyed by an earthquake in Italy.

Firefighters said the 65-year-old was saved from being crushed by a piece of furniture which had toppled over in her kitchen.

She was taken to hospital.

Earlier, workers at a small machinery company had just returned for their first shift after a deadly quake earlier this month when yesterday’s struck, collapsing the roof.

At least three employees at the factory — including an engineer checking the building’s stability — were among those killed in the second deadly quake in nine days to strike a region of Italy that had not considered itself particularly quake prone.

By last night, the death toll stood at 17, with several people missing, including a worker at the machinery factory in the town of San Felice Sul Panoro.

About 350 people were injured in the 5.8-magnitude quake north of Bologna in Emilia Romagna, one of Italy’s more productive regions, agriculturally and industrially.

Factories, barns, and churches fell, dealing a second blow to a region where thousands remained homeless from the May 20 temblor, much stronger in intensity, at 6.0 magnitude.

The quakes struck one of the most productive regions in Italy at a particularly crucial moment, as the country faces enormous pressure to grow its economy to stave off the continent’s debt crisis. Italy’s economic growth has been stagnant for at least a decade, and the national economy is forecast to contract by 1.2% this year.

The area encompassing the cities of Modena, Mantua, and Bologna is prized for its car production, churning out Ferraris, Maseratis, and Lamborghinis; its famous Parmesan cheese; and less well-known but critical to the economy: Machinery companies.

Like the May 20 quake, many of the dead yesterday were workers inside huge warehouses, many of them prefabricated, that house factories.

Inspectors have been determining which are safe to re-enter, but economic pressure has sped up renewed production.

Seven people were killed in the May 20 quake. In both, the dead were largely and disproportionately workers killed by collapsing factories and warehouses.

Co-workers of Mohamed Azeris, a Moroccan and father of two who died in the just-reopened factory, claim he was forced back to work as a shift supervisor or faced losing his job. A local union representative had demanded an investigation.

At another factory closer to the epicentre in the city of Medolla, rescue crews searched for three workers who did not turn up at roll call after the quake and were presumed dead.

Premier Mario Monti, tapped to steer the country from financial ruin in November, pledged that the government would provide help to the area “that is so special, so important, and so productive for Italy”.

The Coldiretti farm lobby said damage to the agricultural industry, including Parmesan makers whose aging wheels of cheese already suffered in the first quake, had risen to €500m with the second hit. The Modena Chamber of Commerce estimated that the first quake alone had cost businesses €1.5m, with no fresh estimates immediately available.

Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini, all centred around Modena, reported no damage, and said workers were evacuated and then allowed to go home to check on their homes and families. Lamborghini planned to keep production halted today.

The quake was felt from Piedmont in north-western Italy to Venice in the north-east and as far north as Austria. Dozens of aftershocks hit the area, some registering more than 5.0 in magnitude.

The temblor terrified many of the thousands of people who have been living in tents or cars since the May 20 quake and created a whole new wave of homeless.

“I was shaving and I ran out very fast, half dressed,” a resident of Sant’Agostino, one of the towns devastated in the quake earlier this month, told reporters.

Yesterday’s quake struck just after 9am with an epicentre 40km north-west of Bologna, according to the US Geological Survey — just several kilometres from where the 6.0-magnitude quake that killed seven people on May 20 was centred.

In the town of Mirandola, near the epicentre, the church of San Francesco crumbled, leaving only its facade standing.

The main cathedral also collapsed. Sant’Agostino’s town hall, so damaged in the May 20 quake that it looked as if it had been bombed, virtually fell apart when the latest deadly quake struck.

The May 20 earthquakewas described by Italian emergency officials as the worst to hit the region since the 1300s.

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