13 Apr 2009

Open-air masses held in quake region

4:35 pm on 13 April 2009

Open-air masses were held on Easter Sunday in the Italian city of L'Aquila and surrounding towns struck by an earthquake nearly a week ago.

About 294 people were killed in the 6.3 magnitude quake, which occurred early last Monday. An estimated 20,000 people are being housed in camps in the Abruzzo region.

Simple altars were set up for the Easter services, as churches damaged in the quake are deemed unsafe. Hundreds of aftershocks have occurred in the area since the quake.

Pope Benedict sent greetings to those "suffering from the earthquake" when he celebrated Easter Mass on St Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Rescue efforts virtually ended on Saturday evening when exhausted firemen said all missing people had been accounted for.

Prosecutors are investigating why so many modern buildings were flattened.