Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Premier vows help for thousands displaced by quakes

Published:Tuesday | November 1, 2016 | 11:00 AM
A view of the destroyed graveyard of Campi, central Italy. The third powerful earthquake to hit Italy in two months spared human life Sunday but struck at the nation's identity, destroying a Benedictine cathedral, a medieval tower and other beloved landmarks that had survived the earlier jolts across a mountainous region of small historic towns.

NORCIA (AP):

Italy's premier pledged yesterday 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.

Some communities, however, resisted relocation.

Sunday morning's quake with a magnitude 6.6 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 still coping with the aftermath of an August earthquake that killed nearly 300 and a pair of powerful aftershocks last week that claimed no lives. Civil protection authorities are still providing housing to 2,000 people displaced from the August quake.

The premier's pledge for housing comes amid increasing reports of residents resisting relocation, either because they have businesses to tend to, not infrequently involving livestock, or in the belief that if their homes are still standing, they remain the safest place to be.

Civil protection officials said they expect the number of people needing assistance to continue to rise, as it do not 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 have 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 on Monday. "There are enough hotels for everyone. But many of our compatriots don't want to leave their lands, not even for some weeks."