It was both beautiful and heartbreaking: the final loving act of a big sister protecting her little sister. Fifteen hours after the devastating earthquake in the Italian town of Pescara Del Tronto, firefighters were using their hands to dig out little Giulia and Giorgia from beneath the rubble.
A black Labrador, Leo, first smelled something in the rubble that alerted rescuers to the little girls below. Firefighters began digging, desperately searching for survivors. First, they found a doll and then, a cold human leg - it was Giulia. She was sprawled on top of her four-year-old sister, Giorgia, in a protective embrace.
Rescuers noticed the ground nearby moving softly below, it was Giorgia and she was alive. Her older sister's body had created a pocket of air that had allowed her to live.
Both children were pulled from the wreckage and Giorgia was rushed to a nearby hospital, she would celebrate her fourth birthday alone and in shock, recovering from the ordeal. The little girl is hardly speaking, only asking for her doll and her mother, who is recovering from her own earthquake injuries.
A funeral was held for 35 of the 291 people killed by the earthquake, including Giulia. The Italian town mourned for their lost lives as firefighters solemnly carried her little, white coffin through the procession.
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