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Tragedy as Italian Apartment Block Collapses

A six story apartment building in Southern Italy collapsed last night, killing at least 14 people, injuring 16 and trapping about 40 people under the debris.

Rescue workers including fire workers, soldiers and civil defence officials are digging through the debris with spades and hands to avoid crushing survivors with heavy machinery. They worked through the night aided by powerful arc lights

There is no official explanation on why the 80 feet high building collapsed so suddenly into a 16 meter high pile of debrisand Italian Interior Minister Rosa Russo Jervolino rejected the suggestion that the apartment block had been badly built.

Jervolino said she had been assured by civil protection officers that the block had been built on stable ground, but Foggia Prefect Gabriella Lasco has contradicted her, saying the incident appeared to be a case of subsidence which pulled the building into a large crater. She stressed however that this was just a theory.

An official investigation into the collapse has already been launched.

Parliamentarians have been quick to demand urgent building checks and the Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema has flown to the site of the tragedy to offer his support

Pope John Paul has offered his condolences, saying he is praying for the victims and survivors.

Out of the tragedy has come one lucky escape story.

The members of one family of five living in the building fled when they heard a creaking sound as the building began to move at 3:15 am (Italian time) and escaped with seconds to spare.

ends

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