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Italian Man Pulled Alive From Deep Mud

May 09, 1998| From Associated Press

QUINDICI, Italy — In one house, shouts of joy went up Friday as a young photographer was hoisted alive from a well after three days buried in mud and water. A few houses away, rescuers encountered a heart-wrenching sight--the body of a young boy in the embrace of his dead father.

Roberto Rubustelli was discovered alive in nearby Sarno, despite clouds of dust being blown up from the hardening mud caking this southern region after a mudslide Tuesday claimed at least 101 lives.

Amid applause and whoops of joy from rescuers, the 22-year-old Rubustelli was raised on a stretcher to a hovering helicopter and flown to a nearby hospital. He apparently survived in a pocket of air after lying three days in mud and water, RAI television said.

Rescuers then pulled out the body of Rubustelli's father. Just down the block, they steeled themselves against one of the most devastating sights yet--the body of a 13-year-old boy cradled in the arms of his dead father, a local police official.

Forty U.S. Navy engineers arrived Friday in Lauro, near Quindici, to build a tent city for Italian rescuers at an old factory site.

Harried rescuers don't even know how many bodies they're digging for in the debris left by the mudslides. Since many people in the stricken towns share the same names and many phones aren't working, numbers of the missing varied wildly, from about a hundred to more than double that.

By Friday evening, it was so confusing that the Civil Defense Ministry in Rome stopped issuing a tally of the missing.

Building houses without permission in unstable geological areas--a long-denounced but long-tolerated practice in the underdeveloped south--was considered a main factor in the tragedy.

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