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Italian President: 'Widespread Irresponsibility' for Quake Damage


Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has criticized what he called "widespread irresponsibility" and lax building standards he blamed for the scale of damage from Monday's earthquake in central Italy.

Mr. Napolitano said those responsible should examine their consciences. He spoke Thursday in the ruined city of L'Aquila, following a series of aftershocks in the area.

The quake killed at least 279 people, including at least 20 children. Rescue teams recovered three bodies Thursday from a collapsed student dormitory.

Local officials said at least 10 people are still missing. Hope of finding them is fading as more than a day has passed since a survivor has been found.

Funerals for the first victims were held Wednesday ahead of a mass state funeral Friday.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is considering tax breaks and other measures to aid in the reconstruction of the region.

The Italian government estimates the program will cost billions of dollars.

The quake left about 28,000 people homeless. Many are living in tent camps and eating from field kitchens.

Police said their patrols have stopped suspected looters.

Pope Benedict said he plans to visit the area as soon as possible. Vatican officials said the trip will come shortly after the Easter holiday on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for pop star Madonna said the singer has pledged cash to help the stricken village of Pacentro, the birthplace of two of her grandparents.

U.S. scientists measured Monday's quake at magnitude 6.3.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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