An 11-year-old boy who was rescued alongside his two brothers in a 16-hour operation after an earthquake hit the Italian island of Ischia has said their survival is ‘proof that God exists’.
Ciro Marmolo spoke to La Repubblica in a hospital room where he is being treated for a fracture suffered when his right foot was immobilized by rubble.
Doctors say the fracture is not serious and is expected to fully heal, but the boy will be transferred to a hospital in Naples where specialists can monitor his circulation.
Ciro was hailed as a hero by officials, who praised his courage throughout the ordeal and said he helped save his middle brother, seven-year-old Mattias, by pushing him under the bed.
Rescued: Ciro (pictured) said it is a miracle that he and his brothers survived the 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The Madonna dell’Addolorata statue (pictured) was rescued by firemen from the Santa Madonna Addolorata, also called Purgatory church, which collapsed in Ischia
Divine intervention: Ciro said his rescue was ‘proof that God exists’. Pictured: A statue at the scene of the earthquake on Ischia
‘It is already a lot that we are all alive,’ Ciro told La Repubblica in a video that had his face pixelated, in line with restrictions in Italy on publishing images of minors.
‘In a second phase, we need to think about a new house, our most valuable objects and our memories.’
‘This is the proof that God exists,’ he said. ‘It is a miracle we are all still alive.’
The Toscano-Marmolo family has been left homeless by the 4.2-magnitude quake that struck the northern side of the island off Naples on Monday night, killing two people – including one of their neighbors.
Saved: There was relief as 11-year-old Ciro was taken to safety after more than 14 hours buried under the rubble of his home
A car turned on its side in the aftermath of the earthquake, in which two people were confirmed dead
The earthquake hit the Italian resort island of Ischia at the peak of its tourist season
People injured in the disaster were taken away on stretchers by rescuers after dozens of buildings collapsed on the island
Tourists fleeing from Ischia Island arrived in Pozzuoli, near Naples, after getting ferries to the mainland overnight
While the boys’ mother and the step-father of the two older boys were quickly brought to safety after the disaster, it took dozens of firefighters working overnight to free first seven-month-old Pasquale after seven hours, Mattias another seven hours later and finally Ciro.
Ciro said that rescuers stayed upbeat throughout the operation, telling them not to worry and that help had arrived.
The last thing he remembered during the ordeal was waking up after having fainted, and seeing what had been a small hole now large.
‘My brother wasn’t there anymore, and I had an oxygen mask on my face,’ he said.
An elderly man is taken to safety by firefighters on the island off the coast of Naples following last night’s earthquake
‘Then with a rope, they pulled me up, all of them, slowly, slowly. Then there were all the people, friends, relatives, at the ambulance and they gave a huge round of applause.’
Doctors said that Mattias would be released from the hospital today but the boys’ mother, Alessia, and baby Pasquale will remain until the family has a new place to live.
‘Even if this is hospital and not a place to recuperate, it seemed terrible to put on the street a pregnant mother who suffered all that she has suffered, and is in an unusual psychological situation,’ Dr. Giuseppe Parisi told reporters in Ischia.
An inside view of the damaged Vinetum Hotel in Casamicciola in the north of the island, which has been hardest hit
A doctor and firefighters carry baby Pasquale to safety – and to be reunited with his mum – after an earthquake hits the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples
Authorities have organized emergency shelter, which housed 200 people last night, down from 2,600 the night of the quake.
It was not clear where Mattias and his step-father, Alessandro Toscano, would be staying in the meantime, but Mattias’ and Ciro’s biological father and other family members have been present throughout the ordeal.
During his general audience today, Pope Francis offered prays for the victims and those who lost their homes in the Ischia quake, which came just days before the one-year anniversary of a much stronger, 6.2-magnitude quake that destroyed several towns in central Italy, killing nearly 300 people.