Aid promised for quake-hit Italy

Financial assistance, as well as blankets, clothing, food, and other supplies , has been pledged for southern Italy by a number of countries and private organizations in the wake of the devastating Nov. 23 earthquake.

Some 150 villages in the region were destroyed, leaving an estimated 3,000 dead and 300,000 homeless. Damage to the area has been put at between $10 billion and $20 billion.

The United States already has provided $3.5 million in earthquake relief to Italy. The House of Representatives swiftly approved another $50 million in aid , and after Senate consideration, the bill is expected to be on President Carter's desk later this week.

Canada announced a $1.8 million aid program for Italy last week and has begun airlifting emergency supplies from Canada's military base in Lahr, West Germany, to Bari in southern Italy.

Meeting in Luxembourg, European Community (EC) leaders responded to Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani's plea for help with a pledge Dec. 1 to help rebuild the region's shattered economy. Observers say the assistance will most likely be in the form of loans with subsidized interest rates. And although Italian officials have indicated $1.5 billion is the amount they feel the Community could provide, Mr. Forlani did not make a specific request at the EC summit meeting.

The Italian Army took over relief operations during the weekend after the search for survivors in the rubble was called off. There was still strong criticism, however, that help from the military had not come soon enough.

Freezing, wet weather and a fresh earth tremor Dec. 2 measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale have slowed relief operations. A government plan to encourage survivors to move to temporary accommodations in empty resort hotels along the coast has been met by people stubbornly refusing to leave their destroyed villages.

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