Body of Israeli Killed in Italy Quake Being Flown to Israel Friday

Death toll rises to 279 in disaster; PM Netanyahu to send Israeli trauma experts to help in relief efforts.

The body of Hussein Hamada, the Israeli national killed in Monday's earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy, will be flown back to Israel for burial on Friday.

Hamada's body is scheduled to arrive in Israel early Friday morning and his funeral is scheduled to take place Friday afternoon in his hometown, the Galilee village of Kabul.

Hamada's father, Amin, and other family members who had traveled to Italy to identify his body are also returning to Israel on Friday.

Hamada, 23, lived in a student dormitory that collapsed when the 6.3magnitude quake struck. His body was reportedly found on Tuesday, but was not positively identified until a blood sample could be taken from his father on Wednesday.

Rescuers on Thursday pulled more corpses from the rubble of Italy's worst earthquake in three decades, braving strong aftershocks in the dimming hope of finding survivors.

The death toll from Monday's quake in the central region of Abruzzo climbed to 279 after rescuers recovered the latest bodies.

Tremors shook the medieval mountain city of L'Aquila and nearby villages throughout the morning, further damaging buildings and prompting authorities to cordon off the city center, which bore the brunt of the quake.

The aftershocks terrified many survivors, 17,000 of whom spent another cold night in tent villages after being made homeless. Rescuers said the chances of finding anyone alive under the devastated city were decreasing every hour.

Hamada's family was told by rescue crews on Tuesday that they expected no survivors to emerge from the rubble in which the Israeli medical student was buried.

Hamada's father, Amin, frustrated with the steady stream of rumors about his son's whereabouts, decided to fly to Italy along with two family members. On Tuesday he waited by the ruins of the dormitory, hoping for some word about his son's fate.

"I'm full of hope, and I'm praying. I want to return with him to Israel, to bring him back home," he said, adding that when he spoke with Hussein three days ago, his son had spoken of the many tremors that had struck the region of late.

Amin Hamada stood for hours beside the rubble alongside the relatives of other missing persons. After he enlisted the help of the Israeli consul, rescue coordinators emerged from the rubble with tragic news.

"No one is alive underneath the ruins," one of them said. "We brought in advanced equipment that can detect even faint breathing, but it didn't find a thing."

The father was told by a rescue worker: "There is no hope anyone here is alive."

The death count from the disaster has risen to 279.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reached an agreement Wednesday for Israel to send a delegation of trauma experts to quake-struck Italy.

Berlusconi thanked Netanyahu after he offered his condolences and said Israel would offer any aid his country requires following the earthquake.