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Digby student shocked by earthquake news


At Digby Regional High School (DRHS), Italian exchange student Virginia Doria has earned a reputation for her high energy and keen intelligence—but April 6 she just wasn’t herself. That morning, the 17-year old was shocked to learn that Italy had experienced the country’s worst earthquake in nearly 30 years.

DRHS exchange student Virginia Doria was relieved to learn her Italian friends survived the earthquake. Jeanne Whitehead photo

Doria told the Couier that when she arrived at DRHS April 6, a classmate asked her about the disaster. “I hadn’t heard about it before then. But in French class I was able to go online to an Italian news station.”

Doria read that the centre of the earthquake was l’Aquila, that thousands were homeless, and at least 90 had perished. “My family lives in Sora, which is about 100 kilometres away, so I believed they would be O.K. But l’Aquila is a university city. Ten of my closest friends study there.

Later that day, the anxious teen was finally able to talk to her family. Her mother told her they had felt the tremors about 3:30 a.m., but they were fine. “My younger brother slept through it,” said Doria.

A number of people in Sora had fled their homes and slept in cars, unsure what to expect next.

That evening, Doria checked the social networking site, Facebook and breathed one sigh of relief after another as the postings of her friends began to appear. “Survived” wrote one. “Safe” wrote another.

Gradually, she learned that, although the houses where they lived had been destroyed, each of her university friends had survived the earthquake.

She also learned that a family friend who resided in l’Aquila had been rescued from under the rubble. “My friends will be OK. They can go home to their families. But there are thousands who are without homes.”

The death count from the earthquake has now surpassed 250. More than 17,000 people are currently living in tent cities or sleeping in their cars as aftershocks continue in the region.

This week’s earthquake registered 6.3 on the richter scale, slightly less that the 6.8 earthquake that devastated Southern Italy in 1980. That disaster killed 3,000.

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