Italy: Abruzzo's Muslims mobilise to help quake victims

L'Aquila, 6 April (AKI) - The Muslim community in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, victim of a massive earthquake on Monday, says it is quickly mobilising to help the victims by donating blood at local hospitals. At least 90 people reportedly died in the quake.

"We heard that hospitals needed blood and thus I am coordinating with the Muslims in the area so they can donate it, and I ask all Muslims of the area to help the victims in any way necessary," said Mustafa Badstami, spokesman of Abruzzo's small Muslim community in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

The Moroccan-born Badstami also said the mosque in San Nicolo was not damaged and said so far there have not been any Muslim casualties in the quake.

"What I can say is that the mosque in San Nicolo in the province of Teramo was not damaged, and we also have no news about Muslim victims. We can say the same about the mosques in the surrounding area of Avezzano."

However, Badstami also said he is trying to find out whether there were any Muslim casualties or damage to the mosques and an Islamic centre in the city of Chieti and the small town of Vasto, located on the Adriatic coast.

The Italian government has declared a state of emergency after the quake, which has killed at least 70-90 people and displaced tens of thousands. Many are still missing.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the capital of the Abruzzo region, L'Aquila, as well as damaging 25 other cities and towns at 3:32 am local time. It was followed by a series of weaker tremors.

The quake's epicentre was close to L'Aquila, a medieval city located 95 kilometres northeast of Rome. TV footage showed scenes of devastation after the quake with twisted steel supports, slabs of walls, furniture and wire fences strewn about the streets coated in thick grey dust.

Residents and rescuers were using their bare hands to clear the debris from collapsed buildings and there were calls for quiet as they listened for sounds of life amid the rubble.

Between 3,000 to 10,000 buildings were reduced to rubble and L'Aquila's university hospital has been declared off limits amid fears it could collapse.

Between 30,000 to 40,000 people are said to have lost their homes.

A university dormitory, churches and a bell tower were reported to be among the buildings that collapsed. L'Aquila's cathedral also reportedly suffered damage.

Italy lies on two fault lines and has been hit by powerful earthquakes in the past, mainly in the south of the country.

The last major quake to hit central Italy was a 5.5 magnitude tremor that hit the central-southern Molise region on 31 October, 2003, killing 28 people, 27 of whom were children whose school collapsed


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