Sweden To Help Italian Quake Survivors

Sweden, along with EU neighbours Germany, France, Greece and Spain are sending a team of ten technical experts this week to help Italian authorities assess the safety of buildings in the small towns in central Italy hit by the earthquake which brought death and destruction last Monday.

The authorities there have said it could be months before it’s known which of the houses left standing are safe enough to be repaired and which will have to be demolished.

The EU commission which announced that it was sending the team of technical experts, also said that Italy can draw from a 1.35 billion dollar EU solidarity fund, which was set up to help member nations recoup costs after natural disasters.

Sweden itself received money from the fund in 2005 after a severe wind storm battered the south of the country, causing the death of nine people and felling 75 million cubic metres of timber, as well as hitting electricity and telephone supply lines. The cost of the damages was estimated at nearly 2.3 billion Euros.

In Italy, 20,000 people are living in camps in the Abruzzo region, where Monday’s quake killed at least 294 people. President Silvio Berlusconi, who attended a mass for rescue workers and volunteers in the city of L’Aquila, said it would be months before most people displaced by the quake will know if they can go back to their homes.