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Two Months After Quake, L'Aquila Struggles to Recontruct Before G-8 Summit


It's been two months since a devastating quake hit l'Aquila and surrounding villages in central Italy killing nearly 300 people. Thousands are still living in tents and as plans for new homes are being made, authorities are also making preparations for the G-8 summit of world leaders that will be held in the quake-stricken city. Sabina Castelfranco reports from L'Aquila.

When the earthquake struck l'Aquila two months ago, the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would move the G-8 summit of world leaders from its planned site on a Sardinian island to the devastated area. The decision was taken, he said, to show solidarity with the victims.

The summit will be held at a military academy in l'Aquila from July 8-10. When the announcement was made, residents were pleased. They believed it would help keep the spotlight on the area.

One woman, who lost her home in the quake, is well aware that reconstruction efforts will take years. She says: "It's something big, huge. It will take time. We can only hope, that they will not forget us, that's all."

L'Aquila remains a picture of devastation with piles of rubble every few hundred meters, imploded buildings, half-crumbled churches. Aftershocks are a constant reminder of the quake.

Close to 60,000 people are still living in tents or in overcrowded hotels on the Adriatic coast. They are only able to return to their homes wearing hard hats and accompanied by fire fighters.

Gabriella Capocetti says she has only been back to her devastated home twice to recover basic needs like some clothes and shoes but not much more than that. She says they have lost everything.

Her house looks fine on the outside but inside its gutted. The historic center of l'Aquila has been declared a red zone and is entirely cordoned off. It's a ghost town.

Ida Spagnoli was sleeping when the roof over her head caved in. Many, like her, find it difficult to forget the moment the quake struck and immediately afterwards.

She continued, "dead silence except in the distance you'd hear 'help, is anybody there?' This was a beautiful place to be and now I feel its all dead and I feel a very tremendous sense of loss."

Fire fighters say nearly all of the historic center needs attention. One of the main problems in the city and surrounding villages is that gas and water pipelines were affected. This issue, they say, must be dealt with first.

Fire fighter Mario Cervini says some buildings can potentially be lived in but people cannot return to them because they still have no services.

The displaced population has until now praised an amazing rescue and assistance effort provided by the civil protection but some discontent has begun to emerge and is likely to spread.

People are tired of living in tents and want new homes.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to empty the tent camps by September 15, either by securing and certifying people's abandoned homes or by re-housing them. But many are pessimistic. They are now also starting to think the upcoming G-8 summit is not only distracting attention but also funds.

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