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Dalai Lama visits scene of Italy quakes
by Staff Writers
Mirandola, Italy (AFP) June 24, 2012

The Dalai Lama visited emergency camps in northeast Italy housing thousands of people who were hit by two deadly earthquakes in May, Italian media reported on Sunday.

Visiting the town of Mirandola, in the hard-hit Emilia Romagna region, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told people not to lose hope.

"You must be determined, that is the only thing that will help you build a new house and face the future," he said, calling the zone a "disaster".

"It is not fair to come to a catastrophe zone like this empty-handed and so I have decided to donate $50,000 (40,000 euros) to the population," he said.

The quakes, which hit on May 20 and May 29 with a magnitude of 6.0 and 5.8, killed 25 people and toppled houses, factories and historic churches and clocktowers.

Over 15,000 people were left temporarily homeless and just over 14,000 are still living in emergency structures, including schools, barracks and 37 tent camps, according to Italy's Civil Protection Agency.

The Dalai Lama will next travel to Matera in the southern Bari region to take part in a debate with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates Betty Williams and Rigoberta Menchu, then go on to Scanzano Jonico, nicknamed the city of peace, before ending his tour in Milan on June 26.

Pope Benedict XVI is also due to visit the quake zones on Tuesday.


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