by Staff Writers
Mirandola, Italy (AFP) May 23, 2013
Reconstruction efforts in Emilia Romagna in Italy are proceeding slowly a year after two powerful earthquakes wrecked homes and businesses in this rich farming and medical industry region.
"A year is a long time for people who are suffering but a short time for those who have to rebuild," said Maino Benatti, mayor of Mirandola, a town at the epicentre of the tremors.
"We have to be patient because usually it takes eight to 10 years to get back to normal," the mayor was quoted by Italian media as saying.
Emilia Romagna was struck on May 20 and 29, 2012 by earthquakes measuring 6.0 and 5.8 on the Richter scale, which killed 25 people.
The earthquakes and various aftershocks cost billions of euros (dollars) in damages, with around 15,000 people forced to leave their homes.
Mirandola is holding a series of commemorations for the victims but is also inaugurating a newly-built campus devoted to biomedicine.
Numerous building sites have been launched, although many town streets still remain covered in scaffolding and deserted with no work going on.
A symbol of the difficulties with reconstruction is the main church in Mirandola.
The interior has been cleared of debris and the structure reinforced but the rebuilding has not yet begun and each stone of the church has been numbered and categorised as the work looms.
In residential streets homeowners complain they face bureaucratic hurdles and compensation delays.
Many businesses have moved to temporary prefabricated buildings on the town's outskirts which appear destined to stay for a long time.
Some residents are still living in containers.
"Maybe it will take two years but we are on the right track with re-housing," the mayor said.
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