Three brothers rescued after two women die in Ischia quake

Geologists say excessive damage, mayors demur

Three brothers rescued after two women die in Ischia quake

Naples, August 22 - Three young brothers were rescued after two women were killed and 42 people injured, one seriously, while 2,600 were left homeless by a 4.0 magnitude earthquake on the popular Bay of Naples island of Ischia Monday night. Geologists said the damage was excessive for such a moderate quake, suggesting illegal building practices were partly to blame, but local mayors demurred. The first victim was named as Lina Cutaneo nee' Balestrieri, 59, from Barano d'Ischia but resident in Ischia, mother of six, and sister of Ischia town councillor Pasquale. She was crushed by the cornice stone of a church at Casamicciola that fell on top of her as she was about to enter the building. The second victim, buried in the ruins of a nearby house, was Marilena Romanini, 65, born in Brescia but resident at Monte San Giusto near the Marche city of Macerata. Romanini was on holiday on the island. Rescuers found 11-year-old Ciro Marmolo, in the ruins of a house that collapsed at Casamicciola after his two brothers aged three, Mattias, and seven months were pulled out alive. Ciro saved Mattias by pulling him under a bed with him after the quake, police said. "Then he hit the rubble with a broom handle to attract rescuers," said Ischia Finance Guard commander Andrea Gentile. Ciro suffered multiple abrasions and the fracture of a right toe, hospital sources said Tuesday. Mattias has slight concussion, trauma to the left collar bone and left arm, and multiple grazes to his chest. Both boys will stay in hospital. All three boys are "miraculously OK," local Rizzoli Hospital head Virginia Scafarto told journalists. "The children are in excellent physical condition. The family is now flanked by psychologists in the delicate phase in which there is a risk of post-traumatic stress", she said. Ciro told hospital staff that "when everything collapsed I embraced my brother (Mattias) and then when the rescuers arrived I pushed him out first," ANSA learned. The boys' grandmother Erasma De Simone said "the kids are well, my daughter is well. I'm not a believer but I don't know how to describe it other than a miracle. We were all dead and we are reborn". De Simone said "my daughter Alessia is very shaken, she's also pregnant but she's well. I saw the children, I spoke to Mattias because Ciro was in the ER and he seemed a bit shook up. Mattias asked me where his piggy bank was." De Simone thanked rescuers for their timely intervention, saying they were all "excellent, especially those who came from Rome". Among the team that saved the three boys were firefighters from the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) of the Lazio region including Teresa Di Francesco, the only woman on the team that saved children trapped under the Rigopiano Hotel in Abruzzo last January. "When you find them alive and save them you are repaid for your next three lifetimes," she said. Earlier, two men and two women were pulled out of rubble alive. One of the injured is in a serious condition. Many tourists have already left the island on specially laid-on ferries. Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli and fire service chief Bruno Frattasi are on the island. Premier Paolo Gentiloni called them to congratulate rescuers on saving the three boys. The government is set to call a state of emergency and the civil protection department will appoint a special commissioner after the earthquake, the department said in a statement. The two dead woman have not yet been identified. Italian President Sergio Mattarella phoned the mayors of Ischia villages Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno to voice his condolences for the two women killed and his solidarity and closeness to the population affected, the president's office said. Mattarella said he would visit the municipalities hit by the quake as soon as possible and he assured his "attention for reconstruction". Mattarella congratulated civil protection, fire and police officers for their rescue efforts and voiced "special wishes" to the three boys rescued. The local mayors had voiced appreciation for the "prompt and efficient" rescues, he said. The mayor of Casamicciola, Giovanbattista Castagna, said he had told Mattarella he felt "proud to be Italian". This was because, he said, "there was a real competition of solidarity by all institutions which fully made every effort to help people in difficulty". Premier Paolo Gentiloni tweeted "Italy is united in grief for the victims and in solidarity. We are at the side of the forces working on rescues and aid". German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has vacationed several times on Ischia, voiced her "deepest closeness" with the islanders and "with the rescuers who are doing their best to help". Italian geologists said the damage on Ischia was not "normal" for a 4.0-magnitude quake but local mayors rebutted that the scale of the damage was not linked to illegal construction on the island. Egidio Grasso, head of the Campania geologists' guild, said "it's not normal for a 4.0-magnitude quake to cause the collapse of building, the evacuation of hospitals, and, sadly, the tragedy of two victims, as well as missing and many injured". In a statement, Ischia's six mayors said they "deplored the false news relating to alleged damage and collapses all over the island and non-existent links between the seismic event and phenomena linked to illegal building." They said the quake had "mostly" damaged old buildings including a church already destroyed by a big 1883 quake, which was rebuilt. European Humanitarian Crisis Commissioner Christos Stylianides tweeted that "the EU is ready to help". Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris said Naples had taken "all possible action" since news of the quake broke. The Italian government has vowed to do everything possible to help the islanders.

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