Survivors of last week's earthquake in central Italy marked a mournful Easter as the bells of the region's many destroyed churches lay silent.

On the most joyous day of the Christian calendar, survivors spoke of their fears for the future after a disaster that claimed 293 lives and wiped out some 10,000 homes.

Yesterday, rescue workers said the were no further known missing persons in the area, and it is expected the search for survivors will be called off.

Many refugees from the devastated town of L'Aquila fear what remains of the houses will be looted following several arrests since the quake last Monday.

600 police officers are patrolling the walled city.

Engineers have begun assessing the damage to the estimated 10,000 buildings hit by the earthquake, and the European Commission said construction experts will arrive in the region early next week.

Strong aftershocks continue to jolt the region, where some 40,000 people have lost their homes. Local administration chief Massimiliano Cordeschi said 18,000 people had registered for inspections of their homes so far.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attended an Easter mass in L'Aquila, and other masses were said in the many tent camps set up in and around the city.

Mr Berlusconi has promised extensive aid to the region and has visited affected areas several times, but residents have complained about inefficiency in the rescue effort.

President Giorgio Napolitano has led allegations that lax construction standards led to the collapse of many of the modern buildings in the disaster in a mountainous region known to be vulnerable to earthquakes.