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Survivor Dies After Legs Amputated

July 26, 1985

TRENTO, Italy (AP) _ Surgeons amputated the legs of a woman buried for 18 hours under the mud and debris that inundated the tourist town of Stava when a dam collapsed, and hours later she died of heart failure, doctors said Friday.

The death of Maria Assunta Cara, 24, on Friday and the recovery of four more bodies from the mud covering Stava valley brought the official fatality count to 218.

Authorities said 96 people still were missing, although that figure has varied considerably since the July 19 tragedy.

Surgeons said they amputated both of Cara’s legs Thursday night and she died hours later at the Santa Chiara Hospital in Trento, the provincial capital 40 miles from the disaster site.

″She lapsed into unconsciousness and this morning her heart stopped beating,″ Dr. Gianpaolo Berlander told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Cara was a waitress at the Miramonti Hotel, one of three inns and some 20 houses devastated by a vast wave of water, mud and debris that poured down the Alpine valley.

She was to be buried Saturday evening at her hometown of Samassi, Sardinia. The Samassi town council proclaimed three days of public mourning.

Meanwhile, authorities said 1,800 rescue workers would remain in the Stava area for another week, searching for bodies, hauling out debris and spraying disinfectant on muddy areas to prevent the spread of germs from decomposing bodies.

Also Friday, workers began removing the vast mass of mud that remained from the two ruptured dikes above Stava to prevent another mud slide into the valley.

The tourist association for the Trento region issued a statement saying tourists were in no danger, ″not even in the area most directly hit by the tragedy.″ Claudio Delvai, president of the hotel association for the central Fiemme Valley region, earlier reported a 30 percent cancellation in reservations following the disaster.

The investigation into the disaster has led to the arrest of five people, including two brothers who owned the dam. All are charged with multiple manslaughter and causing a disaster, and could be jailed for up to 12 years if convicted.

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