Natural disaster struck Italian holiday island of Ischia, tourists were evacuated

Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican Wednesday Aug. 23 2017

Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican Wednesday Aug. 23 2017

An quake on one of Italy's most scenic islands has left two people dead while three children trapped for hours under rubble have been rescued.

The 11-year-old boy, Ciro, is being hailed a hero, credited with saving his brothers by pushing them under the bed when the shaking first started.

At least two people were killed in the quake that hit Monday night during the height of the tourist season, also injuring 39 and leaving homeless 2,600 residents.

The extent of the damage for a relatively light quake raised questions about the quality of construction on the island in the seismically active area off Naples and the active volcano, and the prevalence of illegally built structures.

The children were rescued hours after their father was dug from the rubble and their seven-month pregnant mother managed to free herself from their collapsed apartment. "It was very frightening", an Italian holidaymaker told the Ansa news agency.

Eleven-year-old Ciro had been stuck for more than 15 hours, according to rescue services.

Emergency workers had previously recovered the boys' seven-month-old brother, Pasquale, crying but alive, after hours of effort overnight.

Two people are confirmed dead, the Department for Civil Protection said on Tuesday.

The two older boys were being treated for dehydration and Ciro for a fracture to his right foot.

Finally came Ciro, who rescuers said kept the conversation going throughout the ordeal even though one of his legs was immobilized by the rubble. He said rescuers were maintaining voice contact throughout with the children.

Italian firemen and emergency workers search through rubble of a collapsed house in Ischia, after an quake hit the popular Italian tourist island off the coast of Naples, causing several buildings to collapse overnight.

Ischia's only hospital was also hit and had to be partially evacuated, with five patients transferred to another medical facility by helicopter.

The quake came just two days shy of the one-year anniversary of a powerful 6.2-magnitude natural disaster that devastated several towns in central Italy. Fifteen more were still hospitalised on Tuesday. On Tuesday, streets were clogged, with tourists' cars queuing to board ferries taking them home. Fearing aftershocks, many made a decision to leave the island early.

Former Naples prosecutor Aldo De Chiara said most of the recently constructed buildings on Ischia were built without necessary permits, and many with poor quality cement.

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