24 Jul 2009

EU proposes earthquake aid for Italy

10:28 am on 24 July 2009

The European Commission proposes giving 494m euros ($US703 million) in aid to Italy to help with the aftermath of the earthquake in L'Aquila.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake on 6 April killed nearly 300 people.

Thousands of people are still living in temporary accommodation.

The aid is aimed at rebuilding infrastructure and temporary housing. It cannot be used to compensate people for the loss of private property.

A Commission spokesman said the use of the money would be very carefully monitored.

The BBC reports that only a fraction of reconstruction aid reached the victims of previous earthquakes in southern Italy, amid allegations of corruption and Mafia interference.

Roberto Saviano, the author of a best-selling book about organised crime, Gomorrah, recently warned that aid for L'Aquila and the surrounding region would be a prime target for the Mafia.

The Italian government applied for aid from a fund, which allows member states to draw emergency aid for major natural disasters from the EU budget, in early June.

It estimates that the cost of repairing the damage will be 10 billion euros ($US14.2 billion).

Italy is also eligible for over 70 million euros ($US100 million) from other EU programmes to kick-start the regional economy and rebuild the centre of L'Aquila.