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06.04.2009 19:02
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Slovenia Offers Help to Italy After Quake (adds)

inserts PM's comments, detail on help

Ljubljana, 6 April (STA) - Slovenia has offered to send a search team to Italy to help in the rescue and recovery efforts following the deadly earthquake that struck the central part of its western neighbour on Monday morning.

The Defence Ministry said that a team with search dogs specialised for looking for survivors in rubble was on standby to travel to Italy.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake is reported to have been centred around 100 kilometres north-east of Rome.

One hundred people are reported to have been killed, but the number could rise as many are still believed to be trapped under the debris. More than 1,500 are wounded, while tens of thousands are homeless.

Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor expressed his and Slovenia's deepest condolences at the tragedy, and readiness to help Italy in a cable to his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi. He offered all the help Italy may need in the relief efforts.

The Slovenian civil rescue service activated rescue teams early on Monday morning, Pahor told reporters in Ljubljana in the afternoon. Twenty-two rescuers and ten search dog guides as well as other technical and rescue teams stand ready to be sent to Italy.

Pahor said the teams would be dispatched to the affected area as soon as Italy has assessed such help is necessary.

"The event in Italy confirms that a natural disaster is hard to predict despite all the progress and development. It is important to feel you are not alone in misfortune, which is why the Slovenian government is willing to offer any help to Italy."

Pahor added that Slovenia too had been often victim of natural disasters, "so we understand the feelings and the situation of the Italian nation in these difficult and sad moments".

Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar sent a letter of condolence to his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini, asking him to extend Slovenia's sympathy to the families and friends of the earthquake victims.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared a state of emergency and a number of European countries have already responded with offers of aid.

06.04.2009 19:02

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