Image: Silvio Berlusconi with quake survivors
Sandro Perozzi  /  AP
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, center, flanked by Italian Civil Protection Chief Guido Bertolaso, greets people during the inauguration ceremony for the first new homes in Onna, near L'Aquila, central Italy, on Tuesday.
updated 9/15/2009 4:06:54 PM ET 2009-09-15T20:06:54

Premier Silvio Berlusconi handed out keys Monday to some of the first new homes for survivors of the April 6 earthquake that devastated parts of central Italy.

"May this be a nest of love for a new life, to look ahead, thinking of a future with serenity and hope," Berlusconi told a young mother, her eyes glistening with tears of emotion as he gave her keys to a new home in Onna, a hamlet that was leveled by the magnitude 6.3-magnitude temblor.

Some 40 of Onna's 300 people were killed. Across the mountainous Abruzzo region, 300 died in the quake, and about 50,000 were left homeless.

The new structures — simple single-story, fully furnished houses or apartments — were provided by Italy's Trento region, the Red Cross and the civil protection department.

Berlusconi, a billionaire media magnate, has made rebuilding the quake-stricken parts of Abruzzo a priority of his government, and has shuttled between Rome and the regional capital of L'Aquila to check on progress. He also has held several Cabinet meetings in the city to stress his concern, and shifted this year's Group of Eight summit from Sardinia to L'Aquila to save money and show support for the quake victims.

On Tuesday, he boasted that the new homes were complete with pots and pans, towels, shampoo, toothpaste and a well-stocked refrigerator.

A new day care center is also being opened in Onna.

Earlier Tuesday in Tuscany, some 140 miles northwest of L'Aquila, civil protection crews and firefighters inspected buildings after a 4.2-magnitude quake that struck there Monday night.

No damage or injuries have been reported. The epicenter was in Barberino del Mugello, near Florence, the civil protection department said.

Berlusconi, while battling scrutiny over a sex scandal, has been largely praised for the government's handling of the reconstruction since the April 6 quake. The homeless were put up in tent camps around L'Aquila, in hotels on the coast or with families who offered up their homes.

Of the original 50,000 quake homeless, some 25,350 people are still living in hotels or with volunteer families while another 11,000 are in tents.

Berlusconi has said the apartments inside a police training school, which were renovated to house G-8 delegates this summer, would also be turned over to quake victims as temporary housing.

More on: Italy earthquake

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