Washington – President Barack Obama said the United States was ready to help the more than 200 victims of a devastating earthquake in the heart of Italy and offered his condolences in a telephone call Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The Italian people and victims “are in the thoughts and prayers of the American people at this time,” Obama told his Italian counterpart, according to the White House.
The death toll from Monday’s earthquake, which had its epicentre over the central Italian town of L’Aquila, rose to 211 on Tuesday as rescue workers continued to sift through the rubble for bodies and survivors.
Obama said the US “stands ready to help the Italian people in this time of need.” The State Department on Monday said it offered 50,000 dollars through the US embassy in Rome.
Berlusconi on Tuesday thanked foreign leaders for their solidarity but said Italy was turning down offers of aid from abroad, sparking some criticism from the opposition political party. (dpa)