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Study of the radon concentration in soil and water, and periodically occurring anomalies in emitted concentrations of radon has been identified by many workers as a potential precursor to earthquake event. However, event prediction through the so far used techniques has significant failure rates and false alarms associated with it.
On December 10, 2003, an earthquake of magnitude (M) 6.8, the strongest since 1951, occurred near the Chengkung area in eastern Taiwan. Approximately 65 d prior to the 2003 Chengkung earthquake, precursory changes in the groundwater radon concentration were observed at the Antung radon-monitoring station located 20 km from the epicenter. The radon anomaly was a decrease from a background level of 28.9 Bq L−1 to a minimum of 12.2 Bq L−1.
Observations at the Antung hot spring suggest that the groundwater radon, when observed under suitable geological conditions, can be a sensitive tracer for strain changes in the crust preceding an earthquake.
STRONG aftershocks rocked the Italian city of L'Aquila today, raining fresh lumps of debris as rescuers pulled out more earthquake survivors and the death toll reached 228.
The government rushed to provide shelter for survivors, and police began patrolling against looters. A 98-year-old woman who whiled away the long hours awaiting rescue crocheting was among the lucky few saved today. Another was a girl found alive after 42 hours buried in rubble. BUt hopes of finding others was fading.
Hospital sources quoted by Italy's domestic ANSA news agency said the morgue handling fatalities had taken in 228 bodies by nightfall.
Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi put the death toll at 207. Mr Berlusconi said 7000 police, soldiers and other emergency service personnel and volunteers were taking part in the frantic hunt for survivors.
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Italy seeks survivors, prepares to bury quake dead
L'AQUILA, Italy (Reuters) - Rescuers searched by lamplight in freezing temperatures for a second night for survivors of a quake which killed at least 235 people in central Italy, while relatives prepared to bury the first of the dead.
Thousands of survivors of Italy's worst quake in three decades passed a fitful night in tent villages as a series of strong aftershocks hit the mountainous region of Abruzzo, hampering rescue efforts and causing at least one more death.
The strongest tremor since Monday's quake toppled buildings, including parts of the basilica and the station, as the sun set on the historic mountain city of L'Aquila, which bore the brunt of the disaster in the early hours of Monday.
L'Aquila's mayor said the 5.6 magnitude aftershock left one resident dead while in Rome, 100 km (60 miles) to the west, furniture shook in the upper floors of buildings. A 76-year-old Roman man was reported to have died of a heart-attack.
"In the last two nights, I've slept three hours at most. I feel physically and mentally tired from the lack of sleep and the fear," said Ilaria Ciani, 35, spending the night in a large blue tent at a survivors camp in a sports field near L'Aquila.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has declared a national emergency and sent troops to the area, set up 20 tent camps and 16 field kitchens to provide hot food and accommodation for 14,000 people.
Hundreds of emergency workers, many of them volunteers, used mechanical diggers and their bare hands to remove piles of rubble in L'Aquila and nearby villages devastated by the quake.
The death toll rose steadily throughout the day but rescuers burst into applause when a 20-year-old girl was found alive 42 hours after the quake in the ruins of a four-storey building.
"A rescue like this is worth six months work," said Claudio, a fireman from Venice.
Death toll in Italy quake rises to 250
L'AQUILA, Italy (Reuters) - The death toll in the Italian earthquake rose to 250 during the night after 15 more bodies were pulled out of the rubble, the civil protection department said.
A 5.2-MAGNITUDE aftershock struck the same central Italian area hit by Monday's devastating quake that killed at least 272 people, the US Geological Survey said.
The aftershock, which hit at 02.53 (10.53 AEST), could be felt in Rome, some 100km to the west, witnesses said.
It was not immediately clear whether the tremor had caused any damage in the Abruzzo region shaken by Monday's quake.