News24

Italy: Monti visits Quake zone

2012-05-22 14:03

Rome - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti visited quake-struck towns in northeast Italy on Tuesday, where around 5 000 people spent a second anxious night camped out in temporary shelters.

Monti was greeted by local authorities and security forces in Sant'Agostino, where he was due to meet the families of four of the six victims of Sunday's 6.0-magnitude quake, which reduced homes and historic buildings to rubble.

Thirty-four small aftershocks hit the region during the night, with only one registering over 3.0-magnitude according to Italy's Geophysics Institute.

Rescue workers in the so-called "red zone" in the town of Finale Emilia, the epicentre of Sunday's quake, said damaged buildings had remained stable overnight, with no further significant collapses to weakened buildings.

Thousands of people spent the night in parked cars in supermarket car parks or public squares amid fear that aftershocks might bring houses down.

Monti, who cut short a trip to the United States where he was attending a Nato summit, slept in the nearby city of Ferrara on Monday before heading to Sant'Agostino, where the clock was stuck at 04:05 - the hour the quake hit.

Sunday's quake rattled the cities of Ferrara - a Unesco World Heritage site - as well as Bologna, Verona and Mantua and several smaller towns, reducing many historic buildings and family-owned factories to rubble.

"Damage to businesses is going to run to no less than hundreds of millions of euros," a local branch of employers' organisation Confindustria said.

The weekend's disaster struck just over three years after a 6.3-magnitude quake devastated the city of L'Aquila in central Italy in March 2009, killing about 300 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.