Italian government allocates $92 mln to rebuild quake-hit area

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Italy's Cabinet allocated on Tuesday 70 million euro ($92 million) to deal with the aftermath of the powerful quake that hit central Italy early on Monday, the country's prime minister said.
ROME, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Italy's Cabinet allocated on Tuesday 70 million euro ($92 million) to deal with the aftermath of the powerful quake that hit central Italy early on Monday, the country's prime minister said.

The government has earlier allocated 30 million euro ($40 million) for rescue and reconstruction works in 26 cities and towns affected by the 5.8-magnitude quake in the mountainous Abruzzo region.

"Therefore, the Civil Protection Agency will have 100 million euro to undertake top-priority measures," Silvio Berlusconi said.

Around 29,000 people have been left homeless by the disaster with some villages being totally destroyed.

Berlusconi confirmed that 279 people died in the disaster, adding that 20 of them were under the age of 16. Around a dozen people are thought to be still trapped under the rubble.

A government source said Berlusconi had proposed that foreign leaders take under their patronage the reconstruction of historic monuments damaged by the quake.

In the past several days, Berlusconi held phone conversations with a number of foreign leaders, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Several historic sites in the center of L'Aquila, the epicenter of the quake, were either badly damaged or totally destroyed by the quake and its aftershocks. A number of other centuries-old buildings were reported to be in bad condition, including several Roman and Renaissance churches and a castle.

The most severe damage was done to the red-and-white stone basilica of Santa Maria di Collegmaggio, widely considered the symbol of L'Aquila. The 13th-century building had three of its naves shattered by the tremors, while the bell tower of the 16th-century church of San Bernardino collapsed during the quake.

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