The spouses of most of the Group of Eight leaders have toured the Italian city of L'Aquila, where a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people in April.

U.S. President Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, showed concern Thursday as she looked at piles of rubble that once were centuries-old churches and other buildings.

Mrs. Obama walked side-by-side with Sarah Brown, the wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as the spouses of other world leaders at the Group of Eight summit viewed the damage.

Local women calling themselves "The Last Ladies" staged a demonstration Thursday to draw attention to the difficulty of their living conditions.  But security officials kept them at a distance from the delegation of visiting first ladies and others.

Tens of thousands of Italians affected by the quake still are living in tents or in overcrowded hotels on the Adriatic coast.

The United States said it is helping the earthquake recovery efforts in several ways, including providing scholarships for university students to study in America while their damaged school is rebuilt.

President Obama visited the earthquake zone Wednesday with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The French president's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and U.S. actor George Clooney also plan to visit the area this week.



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