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BU abroad students OK after Italy quake

Christina Lau, a Boston University student studying abroad in Italy, said she was sitting in her living room studying when she felt the couch move and saw her water bottle fall over on Sunday. She said the tremor from the earthquake only lasted approximately 10 seconds.

‘I thought that it was just shaky or that I was imagining it,’ Lau, a

College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said in an email. ‘When I found out [about the quake] though, I felt absolutely terrible for the victims, but fortunate at the same time.’

BU students abroad in Padova, Venice and Tuscany were not directly affected by the quake, BU International Programs manager Patrick Tuck said. The main earthquake struck at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. The death toll from Italy’s deadliest quake in three decades is 235, leaving between 17,000 and 25,000 people homeless, according to the Associated Press.

‘Because our programs are situated in the Northeast corner of Italy, in Padova and Venice, a long distance from where it occurred, the earthquake has not directly affected our students,’ Tuck said in an email. ‘As soon as we received word of the quake, we confirmed with the program directors at both sites that all students were safe and accounted for.’

Lau said since she was not aware the earthquake had occurred, she was not nervous or scared. Lau said she had initially attributed the tremor to the building she lives in, which is more than 400 years old.

‘There were actually two earthquakes the other night,’ Lau said. ‘I found out about the larger one the next morning at around 9 a.m. I didn’t find out about the one in Bologna, which was closer to where

I’m studying abroad in Padova, until around 3 p.m.’

Lau said she was shocked by the extent of the damage caused by the quake, which registered at a 6.3 magnitude. She said since Italian television news is much more graphic than American television news, the imagery was extremely disturbing to watch.

‘They actually showed many images not only of collapsed buildings but of deceased people,’ Lau said. ‘The interviews of the people affected by the earthquake were also uncomfortable to watch. The news cameras got right up in their faces and documented everything, basically.’

Tuck said the program directors in Italy took the initiative of emailing directors and students in the programs to advise them to not travel near the area of the earthquake or its surrounding towns during their upcoming spring breaks.

Tuck said only one parent had contacted his office.

‘They just wanted to know that we have confirmed that all the students are safe, which we have,’ he said.

Lau said her mother contacted her the morning after the quake to make sure she was all right.

‘My mother called me immediately the next morning to make sure that I was OK, and my friends have been really supportive as well,’ she said. ‘I’m really appreciative of their concern.’

Lau said the Italian political system is ‘severely flawed,’ and relief efforts for the victims of the earthquakes will probably not be put into motion as quickly or as efficiently as they would be in the United States.

‘I would want students at home to know that even though this disaster happened on the other side of the globe, Italy would appreciate support and prayers,’ she said.

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