“All this will be rebuilt within the next two years.”
That was the vow from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he surveyed the devastation caused by the massive earthquake in the region of Abruzzo. Its estimated reconstruction will cost around 1.2 billion euros. 35 countries have offered aid, but despite a huge deficit and public debt Berlusconi says his country will cope with the catastrophe on its own. 7000 rescuers are on the scene, including detachments from the Italian army and air force. Hundreds of tents have been erected for the 17000 homeless – revised down from 50 000 after some were taken in by friends and relatives. Finding adequate food supplies is becoming an increasing problem. The State has requisitioned several hotels on the Adriatic coast to house the most vulnerable survivors. The elderly and the very young are being bussed in from the affected region. Officials say the earthquake may severely affect Abruzzo’s economy, much of which is based on tourism, agriculture and small family businesses.