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World News

Italy quake survivors protest reconstruction plans

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ROME (Reuters) - Hundreds of survivors of Italy’s April earthquake protested outside parliament Tuesday as lawmakers debated a bill authorizing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s reconstruction plan.

The April 6 quake in central Italy killed nearly 300 people and left more than 60,000 homeless. Some survivors said they feared reconstruction spending would come too slowly or fall short of their needs, and wanted local control of any funds.

“I just don’t have any faith. I have the feeling that these people will just accept this bill ... and we will run the risk of still being in our tents many years later,” said Eustachio Gentile, mayor of Scauri, one of the towns damaged by the quake. Berlusconi’s hands-on response to the quake, including moving cabinet meetings to the devastated region, boosted his popularity in opinion polls.

He also decided to move next month’s G8 summit of world leaders to L’Aquila, the medieval city devastated by Italy’s worst natural disaster in three decades.

“The G8 ... well, I just don’t give a damn,” said protester Roberto Gioni. “Our historic center is still dangerous and no one is doing anything. The shocks are still taking place, the buildings are getting worse.”

Reporting by Gabriele Pileri; Writing by Phil Stewart; Editing by Sophie Hares

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