Italy’s premier vows help for thou­sands in af­fected re­gion

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Italy’s prime min­is­ter has pledged to find tem­po­rary hous­ing for all those dis­placed by a se­ries of pow­er­ful earth­quakes in a cen­tral moun­tain­ous re­gion, as the na­tion’s strong­est tem­blor in 36 years pushed those need­ing as­sis­tance to more than 15,000.

Sun­day morn­ing’s mag­ni­tude 6.6 earth­quake caused no deaths or se­ri­ous in­juries, largely be­cause most frag­ile city cen­tres had al­ready been closed be­cause of pre­vi­ous dam­age and many homes had been va­cated.

But it did com­pli­cate quake re­lief ef­forts in a zone that was still cop­ing with the af­ter­math of an Au­gust earth­quake that killed nearly 300 in the same re­gion, and a pair of pow­er­ful af­ter­shocks last week that also claimed no lives.

Civil pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials said they ex­pect the num­ber of peo­ple need­ing as­sis­tance to con­tinue to rise, as it doesn’t count the many peo­ple who slept in ve­hi­cles or made other ar­range­ments and are likely to seek help.

Tem­per­a­tures overnight reached near freez­ing, and of­fi­cials ex­pressed con­cern for the many el­derly res­i­dents of these moun­tain com­mu­ni­ties.

“We can­not have tents for some months in the moun­tains, under the snow,” Premier Mat­teo Renzi wrote in a mes­sage. “There are enough ho­tels for ev­ery­one. But many of our com­pa­tri­ots don’t want to leave their lands, not even for some weeks.”

Many peo­ple have been moved to coastal ar­eas, where sum­mer re­sort ho­tels are mostly idle, and other zones away from the quake. But there are in­creas­ing re­ports of res­i­dents re­sist­ing in the be­lief that if their homes have so far re­sisted, that they re­main the safest place to be.

In the town of Nor­cia, clos­est to the epi­cen­tre, fire­fight­ers were tak­ing peo­ple back to their homes early yes­ter­day to re­trieve be­long­ings.

They were given hel­mets as pro­tec­tion, and taken in small groups as they ar­rived. The ground con­tin­ued to shake overnight with at least two jolts above mag­ni­tude 4.

“We were in­side our home and luck­ily the house han­dled it,” said Emanuela Span­ic­ciati, a res­i­dent of Nor­cia. “And that al­lowed us to get out into the streets. There were var­i­ous in­jured peo­ple, but in the end we were lucky.”

Renzi said the fact that there were no deaths “gives us enor­mous re­lief. But the dam­age to the hous­ing stock, as well as cul­tural trea­sures is im­pres­sive. These vil­lages are the iden­tity of Italy. We must re­con­struct them all, quickly and well”.

DE­STROYED: An aerial view of the town of Ama­trice; (be­low) fire­fight­ers es­cort a woman out of a build­ing in Nor­cia

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