Obama Tours Earthquake Damage with Berlusconi
The Post's Michael A. Fletcher is in L'Aquila, Italy, traveling with the president. His pool report from Obama's tour of the town with the Italian prime minister follows:
President Obama joined Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for a tour of the earthquake-shattered center city of L'Aquila.
Walking through the old town's narrow streets in his shirtsleeves, Obama got an up-close look at the damage from the April earthquake that killed nearly 300 people and displaced 65,000 others.
Many of the buildings in the town remain in a state of collapse or partial collapse. Scaffolding lined many others. And piles of rubble were everywhere.
Obama and Burlesconi examined a series of maps displayed in the town square that illustrated the pattern of the seismic damage and buildings that can be repaired.
Obama then expressed his condolences to city officials while thanking rescue workers for their efforts.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all the family members who lost loved ones," Obama said.
He then took pictures with the workers, telling them "Nice job. Keep up the good work."
Obama said the United States has been supportive in the rescue and rebuilding efforts, and he singled out Italian Americans for their help and concern.
The president walked down one narrow street to survey damage of a collapsed government building up close along with Berlusconi and the city's head of civil protection, who led the recovery effort.
The site was about a 15-minute drive from the site of the G-8 meeting.
Also, when Obama arrived in the old town square he was initially apologetic for not wearing a suit coat, when he saw the town's mayor had one on.
"I'm sorry I didn't put on my coat," he said. "I thought we were going to walk." But as it turned out, he did walk.
Posted at 2:13 PM ET on Jul 8, 2009
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