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Relief convoys reach south Italy

The first of several relief convoys being supplied by other Italian cities arrived from the northern city of Bologna, as a fresh series of powerful earth tremors sent thousands of people back into the streets. The convoy took 11 hours to reach Potenza because of landslide-blocked roads.

As a vast relief operation got into its stride, food, tents, money, mobile hospitals, and medical supplies began pouring in, some of from fast-acting European governments. Faced with mounting criticism about the slow start of the rescue operation, a civil service official in Rome admitted the extent of the disaster was at first underestimated.

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Augusto Bianco, general director of the state-run civil defense organization, said that "all the towns and villages hit by the earthquake have now been reached, either by road, rail, or by helicopter, even those located in particularly difficult and mountainous regions." Police coordinators in Naples, however, indicated that recovery teams were still having great difficulty reaching remote villages.

Some 97 cities and villages were destroyed or severely damaged by the quake, which rescue officials say has killed more than 2,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of homeless have spent the nights in the cold, wrapped in blankets and carpets.

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