Italy's Renzi promises to rebuild earthquake ravaged communities

ROME (Reuters) - Italy will rebuild communities devastated by this week’s earthquake and will relaunch efforts to protect the country’s buildings and infrastructure from natural disasters, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Thursday.

At least 250 people died after an earthquake struck the mountainous heart of Italy in the early hours of Wednesday, devastating a string of towns, villages and hamlets.

“We cannot forget that we have a moral commitment towards the men and women of these places,” Renzi told reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting called to discuss the government’s response to the emergency.

“Reconstruction is the priority of our government and of our country,” he said, adding that it was also vital to boost anti-seismic measures in one of the most earthquake-prone nations in the world.

“We are the best in the world when it comes to managing emergencies, but that is not enough,” he said. “We need to change our mentality. We need a new model of development, but also of prevention.”

Editing by Crispian Balmer