Earthquake survivors mark Easter

Thousands of earthquake survivors in central Italy mark a mournful Easter as the bells of the destroyed churches lay silent.

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Tens of thousands of survivors of central Italy's devastating earthquake marked a mournful Easter today as the bells of the region's many destroyed churches lay silent. Survivors spoke of their fears for the future after a disaster that claimed 293 lives and wiped out some 10,000 homes as well as entire livelihoods. The earthquake last Monday was the worst the mainly Roman Catholic country had seen in a generation.

"It's going to be a sad Easter," said Mariano Adriani, a 77-year-old shepherd sheltering in one of more than 30 tent villages dotted around the epicentre town of L'Aquila. "My home is completely destroyed. Where can I go?" After spending a sixth night at the camp, Giovanni Diletti, 47, said: "It's a really different Easter after what happened. Usually I'm with my friends, but here I'm surrounded by tents."

Only a few dozen attended an Easter mass celebrated by local Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari at a camp set up at an athletics track north of L'Aquila. "My words are weak," he said in his homily. "I was afraid, I suffered like you. We're here to conquer that fear," he said. Egidio Colaiuda, a middle-aged survivor, said: "Basically, it's Easter, but there's complete destruction. It's not a real holiday. Our faith is the only thing we've got left."