Scuffles as quake protesters march in Rome

Scuffles as quake protesters march in Rome
Text size Aa Aa

Demonstrators from the area affected by last year’s earthquake at L’Aquila have marched on the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s office demanding more help.

Some 5000 people paralysed the centre of Rome, accusing the authorities of dragging their feet in rebuilding the medieval city.

More than 300 people were killed in the disaster. The protesters also want tax exemptions for victims to be extended, arguing that many people have been left to fend for themselves.

At least one person was injured in the scuffles as the crowd tried to reach Berlusconi’s office. They were later allowed to get closer.

Some protesters complained they were still being housed in temporary prefabricated blocks and that there was no more money for reconstruction.

“L’Aquila is still as it was,” said one woman. They’ve rebuilt 19 new building complexes but the rest is the same, the centre is falling to pieces, all the houses are falling to pieces. They haven’t rebuilt anything.”

“Why are these people here?” shouted a male protester as others held a banner behind him. “Some of us are here to show our city matters to us. And there are those who still don’t have homes because the officials still haven’t been able to deliver.”

The demonstration is embarrassing for Berlusconi, who has often boasted about his government’s fast response to the earthquake.

The protesters also fear that forthcoming austerity measures will starve them of further funding.