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Canadian PM Trudeau meets Italy's earthquake survivors

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Canadian PM Trudeau meets Italy's earthquake survivors
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (3rdL) and his wife Sophie Gregoire are escorted by Italy Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (2ndL) in Amatrice. Photo: AFP
08:43 CEST+02:00
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the quake-hit Italian town of Amatrice on Sunday, where he met survivors before touring the "red zone" devastated by last year's deadly disaster.

The August 2016 quake killed nearly 300 people - including at least 16 foreigners, one of whom was Canadian - and damaged dozens of architectural gems in the historic town in central Italy.

READ ALSO: Amatrice mayor tells tourists: Stop taking selfies in quake rubble

"I am here with the people of Amatrice to share in the suffering caused by the earthquake in a gesture of solidarity and friendship," Trudeau said. "The Italian-Canadian community, and the entire Canadian population, was greatly affected by what happened".

Five percent of Canadians are Italian-born or of Italian descent, according to Canada's 2011 census.

Following the tragedy, the Italian Canadian community created the Italy Earthquake Relief Fund to help "support the people and communities affected by the massive earthquakes," which has so far raised about $570,000 CAD ($424,000).


Trudeau and wife Sophie had lunch with Amatrice's mayor. Photo: AFP

Trudeau was accompanied by his wife Sophie as he talked to survivors and people involved in reconstruction efforts.

They then took a tour of the abandoned "red zone" where collapsed houses lie next to the ruins of a 13th-century Civic Tower, one of the many historical buildings destroyed in the quake, before stopping in front of a makeshift memorial there.

Nine months after the tragedy, reconstruction efforts have stalled and only five percent of temporary homes to house the thousands of homeless victims while the town is being rebuilt have been delivered.

Reconstruction efforts were hampered by another series of earthquakes that struck central Italy from October to January that doubled the number of damaged homes and other privately-owned buildings and multiplied by ten the number of victims.

Italy's Civil Protection Agency has said the quakes cost the country more than 23 billion euros ($26 billion).

Trudeau, who earlier attended the G7 summit in Sicily, will continue his three-day Italian tour with a meeting Monday with Pope Francis and on Tuesday with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni and Italian business leaders.

READ ALSO: Experts say Italy must do more to reduce earthquake riskItaly must do more to reduce earthquake risk: experts
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

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