By  on April 7, 2009

After the earthquake in central Italy that killed more than 150 people and left tens of thousands homeless, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday the government would provide the funds to rebuild.

Berlusconi, who declared a state of emergency and canceled a trip to Moscow, said, “There will be no problems concerning the economic expense because the government has already activated the European fund for catastrophes.”

The 6.3 magnitude temblor, which struck about 3:30 a.m. Monday and could be felt in Rome, more than 60 miles southwest, triggered major damage in medieval hill towns in the Abruzzo region. It was centered in L’Aquila, which is nestled under the Gran Sasso, the highest peak of the Apennines.

At least 1,500 people were injured and rescue teams were searching the rubble.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Rome said it was too early to estimate the damage caused by the quake, the worst to hit Italy since 2002.

The region’s resources primarily stem from a few industrial plants, agriculture and tourism. However, there are a few fashion companies, including Brioni, whose managers couldn’t be reached for comment.

Upscale knitwear firm Gran Sasso’s 400,000-square-foot headquarters is located less than 40 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter. “We were all woken up in the middle of the night by trembling walls and a deafening noise; it was so strong we felt the epicenter could be very close,” said Carlo Di Stefano, marketing director of Gran Sasso. “Our initial reaction was to send knitwear to the victims who were left with nothing, but we also intend on making a donation to a local humanitarian association.”

Di Stefano, said he was worried about clients and small retailers in L’Aquila. “Our commercial offices have been trying to reach them but without success.”

A spokesman for Sixty Group, with headquarters in Chieti, about 60 miles from L’Aquila, said the staff, including co-founders Renato Rossi and Wichy Hassan, was in “shock.” The company didn’t suffer any damage.

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