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Russian experts to assist Italy in assessment of quake damage


MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russian experts will be flown to Italy on Sunday to assist in assessing building safety in the aftermath of this week's devastating earthquake, an emergencies ministry spokeswoman said on Friday.

The death toll in Monday's 5.8-magnitude quake has risen to 280 people, with strong aftershocks continuing to be felt, including one late on Thursday that measured 5.2 on the Richter scale.

The eight experts and their equipment will be sent in accordance with President Dmitry Medvedev's promise of assistance to Italy, spokeswoman Irina Adrianova said.

"The Emergency Situations Ministry is sending a group of experts to carry out assessments of the stability of residential buildings and other constructions damaged as a result of the earthquake," she said.

"They will take two complete mobile diagnostic kits to evaluate the seismic stability of buildings," she said, adding that the equipment was EU-certified and has been used in Russia, South Ossetia, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan.

The data will be used to assess whether people can return to their homes and workplaces, and to determine how unsafe buildings need to be strengthened.

Around 29,000 people have been left homeless by the disaster, with some villages in the mountainous Abruzzo region totally destroyed. The Italian government has allocated 100 million euros ($132 million) for recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Several historic sites in the center of L'Aquila, the epicenter of the quake, were either badly damaged or left in ruins, including the red-and-white stone basilica of Santa Maria di Collegmaggio, widely considered the symbol of the town. The 13th-century building had three of its naves shattered by the tremors, while the bell tower of the 16th-century church of San Bernardino collapsed during the quake.

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