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3 Central Italian Towns Are Reduced To Rubble After Wednesday's Quake


The earthquake that shook central Italy yesterday has left at least 240 people dead, hundreds more are wounded and many find themselves with nowhere to go. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is with us now.

And, Eleanor, what have you been seeing?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Well, I started my morning in Amatrice, which is one of the hardest hit towns. The mayor says maybe 200 dead in that town. And it's just in - much of it in destruction. And emergency crews, they're still looking for survivors.

And then I left that and I started driving around. And now I'm in - I've been going through villages in the region. And you just - it's stunning. The destruction is everywhere, from houses in complete rubble to huge cracks in the walls. And I'm in a little hamlet called Restrosi (ph). And I'm looking at a car buried under blocks of rock from the church, and the belfry has collapsed. There are cracks in houses here.

I met a Roman man who's come back to look at his second home here. And I followed him through the rubble in the center of the hamlet. He wanted to check on his house. He was wearing - motorcycle helmet, he was so scared. And his house was OK, but people are really nervous. You know, he said he's lucky that's his second home.

I'm seeing a lot of old people. This is where they live, and they're scared to go inside. I spoke with one woman she said, look at my house. It has a massive crack just zigzagging down. And she said, I can't sleep anymore. And so you see old people just sort of sitting out in open spaces and parks.

MONTAGNE: Well, just quickly, I know you were headed for one of the hardest hit towns.

BEARDSLEY: I was, but, Renee, everything's hard-hit. But the roads are tiny, little mountain roads, and they're blocked with emergency crews, military trucks, detours, with rubble. So it's hard to get anywhere. But you don't have to go far to see the destruction. And in the background is this craggy mountain range.

MONTAGNE: Eleanor, thanks very much. That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley covering the aftermath of the earthquake in Italy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.

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