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Haiti: Relief efforts 'complicated', Bertolaso

Italy's civil protection chief warns of possible 'anger'

14 January, 18:15
Haiti: Relief efforts 'complicated', Bertolaso
Haiti: Relief efforts 'complicated', Bertolaso
Haiti: Relief efforts 'complicated', Bertolaso

(ANSA) - Rome, January 14 - Relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti will be "much more complicated" than they were after last April's powerful quake in the Italian region of Abruzzo, Italy's civil protection chief said on Thursday.

''Once the initial shock is over, the anger of the population will rise because people will not find the same type of aid and support that we are used to in other parts of the world,'' Guido Bertolaso explained.

Tuesday's earthquake, he observed, ''was one of the most devastating in recent history and struck one of the poorest and least organised areas in the world ,and this will also complicate our efforts''.

The magnitude of the quake in Haiti was over 7.0, while the one in Abruzzo was 5.8.

Italy's civil protection department has already sent a fact-finding advance team to Haiti and in 48 hours an action plan will be ready, Bertolaso said.

"Within two days we will have a good picture of the situation there and be able to decide on the makeup of the relief team to send in," Bertolaso explained.

"This is a busy time for the department which is dealing with a number of emergencies including those in Albania, where there is widespread flooding, and others in many parts of Italy," he added "Fortunately, we are well organised through the employment of regional forces, fire departments and other rescue squads and we can afford to set up a permanent mission in Haiti," the civil protection chief said.

"We will not be going there to hand out candies but to offer relief through logistical bases which can deal with an emergency which, unfortunately, we ourselves recently experienced," he added.

April's earthquake in Abruzzo left some 300 dead and caused the destruction of many towns and the region's capital, L'Aquila.

The civil protection advance team will be followed later Thursday by a C-130 military transport plane bringing a military field hospital and medical staff.

FOREIGN MINISTRY TRYING TO CONTACT ITALIANS.

The foreign ministry on Thursday said it had contacted 80 of the 191 Italians listed as residents in Haiti and asked that anyone with information about friends or relatives there to contact its special crisis unit.

"There is ample reason for concern because the number of people we have not been able to contact is higher than the number we have,'' crisis unit director Fabrizio Romano said.

''And as Foreign Minister (Franco) Frattini has said: the fact we don't have bad news unfortunately is not good news,'' he added. While there has been no confirmation of any Italian casualties, there are fears that some Italians have have been in the Hotel Montana which collapsed in the quake. A foreign ministry envoy is expected to arrive in Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday and Romano said he will immediately go to the hotel ''to verify the possible presence of Italians there".

According to Romano, some of the 191 listed at the Italian consul's office in Haiti ''may have left the country before the earthquake, but at the same time there may be some Italians who did not register their presence''.

Officials in Haiti fear that upwards of 100,000 people may have been killed by Tuesday's earthquake.

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