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Quake relief effort going well says Mattarella

18 gennaio 2017 | 17.29
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Italy's president Sergio Mattarella praised the work of emergency services in central Italy which on Wednesday was rocked by four strong earthquakes amid heavy snowfalls, freezing temperatures and power outages.

"The relief effort is going very well," Mattarella told SkyNews24 during a visit to Athens.

"Each time I speak to local mayors they express their appreciation and satisfaction at the work being done by Italy's civil protection agency," he said.

The quake-hit area along Italy's mountainous spine is vast and contains many snowbound remote villages as well as towns, complicating rescue efforts, Mattarella told Sky.

"The task is extremely complex and we should recognise what is being achieved," Mattarella said.

Italy's fire brigade on Wednesday tweeted that snow-covered roads were creating "operational difficulties" for their teams trying to reach people trapped in isolated areas.

Italy's civil protection department in Marche on Wednesday announced an alarm for possible avalanches due to the heavy snowfall and the earthquakes.

Italy's premier Paolo Gentiloni told reporters he was following the situation in the quake zones "minute by minute".

"Fortunately there are no reports of casualties, however it is a situation which causes alarm for the population, which was already severely affected by the earthquakes last year," said Gentiloni.

He made the comments at the start of a joint press conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin during a visit there.

Gentiloni and defence minister Roberta Pinotto have agreed to deploy more soldiers to the quake area to help people who were cut off, Gentiloni said.

Soldiers were sent late Tuesday to Marche and to the Abruzzo region to help people affected by several days of snowfalls - a factor which has made earthquake recovery efforts more difficult. A total of 300,000 people were without electricity in Abruzzo on Tuesday, officials said.

The central Apennines were devastated by a deadly magnitude 6.2 quake last August that killed 300 people. Quakes measuring magnitude 5.1 and 6.1 wrought further damage to buildings, infrastructure and agriculture in October.

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