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Italian quake victims denounce reconstruction pace

by Staff Writers
L'Aquila, Italy (AFP) Nov 20, 2010
Thousands of residents of an Italian city devastated by an earthquake last year joined a mass protest Saturday to vent their fury against the government over the slow pace of reconstruction.

Braving wind and rain, the protestors marched from the outskirts of L'Aquila to the historic centre which bore the brunt of the devastation when the quake struck in April last year and is still off limits more than 18 months on.

Some played musical instruments while others carried banners describing their city in the central Abruzzo region as "the Ruins of Democracy".

The protestors, who police say numbered 13,000, called for regular supplies of financial aid to help fund the region's revival rather than simply be reliant on a series of one-off payments. They also demanded more active involvement in the reconstruction plans.

The residents were joined by representatives from other municipalities such as Naples and by political opponents of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"At this rate it's going to take 30 years to restore L'Aquila," said Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the opposition Italy of Values party.

Saturday's was the latest in a series of protests by the population of L'Aquila over their plight. Several thousand descended on the centre of Rome in July where they demanded more financial aid.

The earthquake which erupted underneath L'Aquila on April 6, 2009, left 308 dead and devastated its historic city centre where many of the buildings date back to the 13th century.

Since then, around 30,000 people have been unable to return to their homes and are having to stay in makeshift apartments, hotels or an army barracks.

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