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Roundup: Italy's cabinet delivers 300-mln-euro worth relief measures to quake-hit towns

Xinhua, October 12, 2016 Adjust font size:

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's cabinet on Tuesday delivered relief measures worth some 300 million euros (333 million U.S. dollars) to the central regions hit by a powerful earthquake in August.

The decree containing the measures also provides guidelines "to all the actions necessary to support the reconstruction and the economic recovery" of the devastated villages and towns, the cabinet said in a statement.

The provisions included full compensation for all houses and buildings damaged in the quake, loans of honor to re-launch entrepreneurial activities, and unemployment benefits for people working in companies that had to halt their business.

In previous earthquakes so far, the Italian government had allowed 100 percent compensation for primary residence homes only, and a partial coverage of reconstruction costs for all the other houses.

Besides the 300-million-euro relief measures contained in the decree, further resources would be allocated for the reconstruction, according to officials.

"Our estimates suggested some 3.5 billion euros overall would be needed for private buildings, and one billion euros for public buildings," Undersecretary to the Prime Minister Claudio De Vincenti told a press conference after the cabinet's meeting.

Such resources would be already included in the budget law, which the cabinet was expected to approve this week, the official added.

"There are 62 municipalities included in the cabinet's decree," special commissioner for post-quake reconstruction Vasco Errani told reporters.

"We are now working to address two issues: the intensity of the damage suffered in these areas, and how to reverse the depopulation," said Errani.

In September, the government had estimated the economic cost of the quake would amount to at least 4 billion euros.

Some 298 people were killed, and 400 were injured, in the 6.0-magnitude quake that struck mountainous areas in the central Lazio and Marche regions in the early hours of Aug. 24.

Hardest-hit communities included the towns and villages of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Arquata del Tronto, which were almost obliterated by the tremor.

The quake also left some 3,000 people homeless, most of them were sheltered in tent camps, according to the Italian Civil Protection agency.

"Today, we have 1,357 people assisted, and less than 300 living in the tent camps," Civil Protection chief Fabrizio Curcio explained on Tuesday.

After the cabinet approved the relief package, Renzi paid a visit to the quake-hit communities.

He had pledged to rebuild the destroyed villages and towns "as they were, and where they were, possibly more beautiful than before."

Such reconstruction plan would be longer and more difficult than rebuilding completely new areas, since the quake hit predominantly mountainous towns of medieval origins.

Yet, a vast majority of the affected communities called for restoring the urban centers to their original status. (1 euro = 1.11 U.S. dollars) Endit