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Aftershocks continue in Italy quake areas

2012-06-01 15:03

Rome - A series of aftershocks of up to 3.3 in magnitude continue to shake an area of northern Italy hit by two devastating earthquakes this month, experts said.

By 10:00 on Friday, more than 20 shocks had been recorded in the Emilia Romagna region, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology.

A magnitude-6 earthquake on 20 May and another magnitude-5.9 tremor on Tuesday have claimed a total of 17 lives and injured more than 350 people. An estimated 15 000 have been left homeless.

Meanwhile, survivors are being warned against rumours, possibly spread by would-be looters, that a new, devastating tremor could soon strike the area again.

Experts have said that the "seismic wave" of aftershocks could continue for days, weeks, months and even years.

But rescue officials in a statement on Thursday noted that "any forecast that precisely indicates the date, time and place or the magnitude of future earthquakes is entirely baseless".

Insufficient policing

In Carpi, one of the hardest-hit areas, the owner of a clothing factory denounced the threat posed by looters.

"People claiming to be officials of the Civil Protection agency [rescue services] are continuing to issue false evacuation orders ... so that they can clear the field for robberies and looting," Gianguido Tarabini, owner of the Blufin factory was quoted as saying.

Tarabini described as "insufficient" the levels of policing in Carpi, a town of 70 000 inhabitants.

According to Environment Minister Corrado Clini, the government plans to allocate about €500m to the earthquake-stricken areas. The aid is to be funded in part by a special tax on petrol.

The overall damage caused by the earthquakes, including to roads, homes, and factories, has been estimated at more than €2bn.

Emilia Romagna mostly lies in the Po Valley, a fertile region where many manufacturing industries and agri-businesses, including Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar, are located.