First Ladies Visit Quake Zone

Jul 9, 2009 7:43am

ABC News' Yunji de Nies Reports: Following in her husband's footsteps, Michelle Obama made a visit to earthquake stricken L'Aquila this morning. The first lady and other G-8 spouses walked slowly through the town to the main square, on a street surrounded by crumbled buildings. Mrs. Obama was joined by the first ladies of the UK, India, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, and Gabon. French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy skipped the tour, but will visit the area on her own later this afternoon. In April, a large earthquake devastated the city, killing nearly 300 people and leaving thousands more homeless. Much of the area is still unlivable. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi moved the G-8 Summit to the region to help boost the local economy. The prime minister took President Barack Obama to the quake-zone yesterday. The president stopped to take photographs with local firefighters, and expressed his sympathy. "Obviously our hearts were broken by the death and destruction that took place after the earthquake. And I'm very pleased that the United States, like many other countries, will be contributing to help the rebuilding process,” the president said. Later, the White House announced that the U.S. government, in partnership with the National Italian-American Foundation, will take a number of steps to help the region. Those include modular housing and classrooms for University of L'Aquila students, summer recreational activities for displaced children and year-long scholarships for University of L'Aquila students to study in the U.S. The area is still seismic. Italian news agencies are reporting four small quakes in the region, ranging from 2.1 and 2.5 on Richter Scale. Summit organizers have helicopters on standby, in the event of a more serious incident. FLOTUS Fashion Watch: Mrs. Obama wore a full yellow skirt, matching top and short sleeved J.Crew flower patterned cardigan. The cardigan was fastened with a large jeweled broach. She wore her hair in a small, high French twist. — Yunji de Nies

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