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Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 12:31 UK

Italy earthquake payouts delayed

Man walks past ruined blocks of flats in L'Aquila (file)
The Senate has passed a bill to cover 100% of the cost of rebuilding homes

Discrepancies in compensation claims for the rebuilding of earthquake-hit homes in the Italian city of L'Aquila are holding up payouts, officials say.

The local authority's chief executive, Massimiliano Cordeschi, has noted an "incongruity" in the total numbers of residents and of those seeking aid.

About 100,000 people have requested a grant, but only 70,000 are registered as living in and around the city.

Nearly 300 people died in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 6 April.

Some 58,000 people were left homeless. Around 34,000 are living in tents while others are being put up in hotels.

Register

Mr Cordeschi said a possible explanation for the discrepancy in the compensation claims could be that a number of people without an official address had applied for compensation.

Tents for homeless people near L'Aquila
The people of L'Aquila are not cheats - the number of people staying in tents or hotels is changing from day to day
Massimo Cialento
Mayor of L'Aquila

Applications from people who had moved away from L'Aquila to live in Rome and elsewhere but had failed to change their official residence, could also account for the inconsistency, he added.

Mr Cordeschi said "a minimum of quick checks" had to be made.

"On the register there are X number of citizens and the applications reveal Y number of people over and above X," he told the Italian state broadcaster, Rai.

On Thursday, the Italian Senate approved a bill to cover 100% of the cost of reconstructing or repairing homes damaged by the earthquake.

Mr Cordeschi estimated an additional 30,000 grants would cost the state about 2.4m euros (£2.1m) a month.

The mayor of L'Aquila, Massimo Cialento, does not believe that grant applicants are attempting to tap into taxpayer money

"The people of L'Aquila are not cheats. The number of people staying in tents or hotels is changing from day to day," he was quoted as saying in the regional newspaper, Il Resto del Carlino.

The delay in payouts comes in a week when the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, backed plans to hold the July G8 summit in L'Aquila, saying the event could boost the regional economy.



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