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>FW: Italy Collapse of six-story res. apartment building

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Title: >FW: Italy Collapse of six-story res. apartment building

Dozens Feared Dead or Trapped in Italy Collapse

7.12 a.m. ET (1212 GMT) November 11, 1999
FOGGIA ? Dozens of people were feared dead or trapped under rubble Thursday after a six-story apartment building in southern Italy collapsed while residents were sleeping.

Some nine hours after the collapse, which was believed to be due to structural failure, at least seven people were confirmed dead. At least 13 others, including two children, survived and were taken to hospital. Most were in satisfactory condition.
Rescue workers and fire brigades were digging furiously with shovels and their bare hands to find more survivors at the scene, which looked as if an earthquake had hit.
City officials said that as many as 90 people lived in the building, which had some 30 apartments, but it was not yet clear how many of them were inside at the time. Estimates ranged from 70 to 90.
"This unfortunately is a situation where people are either slightly injured or most likely dead, one extreme or the other," an Italian radio journalist reported from Foggia hospital.
The building, in a residential area on the outskirts of Foggia, in the southern Puglia region, was built in the 1960s.
Magistrates opened an investigation into the collapse, which reduced the modern style building some 80 feet high to a dusty, tangled heap of some 16 feet.

Speculation on the cause of the collapse ranged from use of faulty building materials to infiltration of underground water into supporting columns at the ground level, site of a garage.

Building Creaked, Family Fled

The members of one family of five living in the building fled when they heard a haunting creaking sound as it began to move at 3:15 a.m.
They rang the apartment buzzers from outside the building in a vain attempt to warn other residents to flee.
One fireman said his squad had received a telephone call about loud creaking noises from the building some five minutes before it collapsed but they arrived too late at the scene.
A woman who lived in the building desperately joined rescue workers and volunteers in digging through the rubble to save the life of her one-year-old nephew.
"As soon as I saw the tiny hand, I threw myself into the effort and dug," Nicla Crincoli told reporters. "I heard him crying and I screamed. I started picking up the pieces with my bare hands. Fortunately, I managed to pull him out unhurt."

The infant was taken to hospital and was in good condition.
"This is a terrible event before which man is powerless," said Foggia's Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, who went to the scene in the middle of the night.
"All we can do now is show our solidarity with the victims."
Interior Minister Rosa Russo Jervolino was due to fly to the area and Foggia's mayor ordered the evacuation of an adjoining building.
Last Dec. 27 people, including six children, died when an apartment block crumbled in Rome. That collapse was due to structural failure.