News Wrap: Italian quake death toll rises to 250; Afghan university attack kills 13

Email a Friend

A body is carried away by rescuers following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2MZXS

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Rescuers in Italy today desperately searched for signs of life amid a sea of rubble.  The death toll now stands at 250 people.  The temblor leveled a cluster of mountain communities northeast of Rome early yesterday.

Emma Murphy of Independent Television News is in Italy with the latest.

EMMA MURPHY:  Since the first quake, the aftershocks are seemingly endless.  This one measuring 5.4 brought fear to an already traumatized population and greater danger to those working through what is already damaged.

And what damage.  This is Pescara del Tronto.  These images are of destruction on such a scale which makes them almost impossible to take in.  On the ground, it still seems unreal.  And yet a closer look gives a glimpse into the lives which were lived here and for some lost here.

Even the bishop tells me he has no words to offer comfort, relying instead of spiritual closeness or physical closeness and silence to help people through.

There were around 1,000 people in the town when the quake struck.  Incredibly, most were able to escape.  But there are others buried deep beneath.  There are moments of joy, like when this worker shouted that he thought there was a child and called for silence.

They carefully begin to inch her out from the rubble which she has been trapped in for 15 hours.  She is 10 years old and pulled out alive.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EMMA MURPHY:  It was a moment of hope, but there is much desperation and a feeling that the time for rescues has now passed.

MAN:  We use the dogs.  They are looking for now at this moment, but no sign of people alive, no.

EMMA MURPHY:  For some, there’s been a chance to retrieve a few belongings abandoned as they ran for their lives.

MAN:   I’m angry with God.

EMMA MURPHY:  You’re angry with God?

MAN:  Yes, I’m angry with God.

EMMA MURPHY:  It’s unlikely these homes will ever be salvaged.  And few feel particularly confident about living here now.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Italy’s civil protection agency estimates about 5,000 people, including firefighters, soldiers, and volunteers, have provided assistance in the wake of the disaster.

Colombia’s president formally delivered a historic peace deal with FARC rebels to his country’s congress today.  It establishes a timetable for the leftist rebels to disarm and reenter society, ending five decades of war that’s killed more than 220,000 people.  President Juan Manuel Santos hailed the agreement before a jubilant crowd outside the congress building in Bogota.  It still requires the Colombian people’s approval in an October referendum.

PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, Colombia (through translator):  I want to inform Colombians that I have ordered a definitive cease-fire with the FARC, beginning this coming Monday.  With this ends the armed conflict with the FARC.  Through this act, we are giving the people the last word regarding Colombia’s peace, and it will be the people on October 2 who will say, yes, we want peace.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  We will take a closer look at Colombia’s path to peace after the news summary.

At least 13 people are dead one after a nearly nine-hour-long siege at the American University of Afghanistan on the outskirts of Kabul.  Dozens more were wounded.  The attack began last night with a car bomb at the university’s entrance, followed by gunfire.  It didn’t end until this morning, when two gunmen were shot dead by Afghan special forces.  Students recounted the assault.

AHMAD HUSSIN, Student, American University of Afghanistan (through translator):  We were at the gym inside the university when the attack took place.  There is a safe room there.  We all stayed there until 1:30 a.m.  Then the security forces came in and rescued us.

NAQIE ULLAH, Student, American University of Afghanistan (through translator):  The militant insurgents threw hand grenades at us, but we covered ourselves under the desks to avoid shrapnel.  Then we all jumped down from the window of the second floor and escaped.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The State Department confirmed no U.S. citizens were among the dead.  So far, there has been no claim of responsibility.

In Syria, the main Kurdish militia is beginning to withdraw from the Turkish border a day after the U.S. threatened to revoke its support if the Kurds didn’t do so, this in part due to Turkish concerns that the so-called YPG has gained too much ground fighting the Islamic State.  They say the group is tied to Kurdish separatists inside Turkey.

Meanwhile, more Turkish tanks and fighters moved into the Syrian border town of Jarabulus today to help Syrian rebels secure the area from ISIS militants.

U.S. defense officials have confirmed a series of naval face-offs with Iran in the Persian Gulf.  An Iranian vessel approached two American warships yesterday, prompting one U.S. ship to fire warning shots.  The incident came a day after Iranian boats steered within 300 feet of an American ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

A Pentagon spokesman said Iran’s naval aggression was a concerning trend.

PETER COOK, Pentagon Spokesman:  We certainly hope it doesn’t continue, because it serves no purpose, other than to raise tensions in an important part of world, and tensions that we don’t seek to have escalated.

We are conducting ourselves again, as always have, as the Navy does around the world, in a safe and professional manner, and our sailors will continue to do that, and they will continue to take the steps they need to, to protect themselves, their ships and our interests in the region.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Iran’s defense minister warned today they will continue to confront any vessel entering its territory, even though this week’s incidents were in international waters.

The maker of the EpiPen said today it is reducing out-of-pocket costs for some patients, amid a firestorm of criticism.  The company, Mylan, will issue savings cards that cover up to $300 of the cost of its $600 two-dose package of the lifesaving allergy treatment.  It is also doubling the amount of people that qualify for its patient assistance program.

Stocks slipped on Wall Street today, led by declines in the health care sector.  The Dow Jones industrial average lost 33 points to close at 18448.  The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 slid nearly three.

The post News Wrap: Italian quake death toll rises to 250; Afghan university attack kills 13 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.