The news set the people frantic with grief and indignation. They insisted that the authorities knew that the roof was unsafe and had neglected their duty. Cursing and screaming in their intense excitement, they surrounded the market, endeavoring with frantic haste to remove the heavy beams from beneath which came the appealing calls for help, many of the rescuers sobbing aloud as they worked. It required a large force of police and soldiers to keep them back and permit the firemen and other trained workers to carry on more systematically the work of relief. Twelve persons proved to have been killed, two fatally injured, twenty-four seriously hurt and over a hundred badly bruised and cut. Among these were many children, whose parents had sent them to do the marketing without a dream of danger, and the grief of the parents was intense. The Duke of Aosta, Prefect of Naples, directed the work of rescue, while his wife assisted in the care of the injured. As the Duchess bent in the hospital to give a cooling drink to a badly bruised little girl she felt a kiss upon her hand. Looking down, she saw a woman kneeling at her feet, who gratefully said: “Your Excellency, she is all I have. I am a widow. May God reward you.”
While this scene of horror was taking place in Naples the fate of the town and villages grouped around the foot of the volcano seemed as hopeless as ever. Early on the 10th the showers of ashes and streams of lava diminished and almost ceased, but later the same day they began again, and the terrified inhabitants feared that a catastrophe like that which buried Pompeii and Herculaneum was about to visit them. The lava which reached the cemetery of Torre Annunziata turned in the direction of Pompeii as if to freshly entomb that exhumed city of the past. A violent storm of sulphurous rain fell at San Giuseppe, Vesuviana and Sariano, and on all sides the fall of sand and ashes came on again in full strength. Even with the sun shining high in the heavens the light was a dim yellow, in the midst of which the few persons who still haunted the stricken towns moved about in the awful stillness of desolation like gray ghosts, their clothing, hair and beards covered with ashes.
A typical case was that of Torre del Greco. Though for thirty hours the place had been deserted, a few ghostly figures could be seen at intervals when the vivid flashes of lightning illuminated the gloom-covered scene, wandering desolately about, hungry and thirsty, their throats parched by smoke and dust, yet unable to tear themselves away from the ruins of their late comfortable homes.
So deep was the ash fall that railway or tramway travel to the inner circle of towns was impossible, and the great depth of fallen dust choked the roads so as to render travel by carriage or on foot very difficult. A party of officials made a tour of inspection by automobile, visiting a number of the town, but were prevented by the state of the roads from reaching others. Ottajano was thus cut off from travel, and a heavy fall of ashes followed the officials in their retreat. At Bosco Trecase the lava had gathered into a lake, already growing solid on top, but a mass of liquid rock beneath.