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A violent earthquake struck Italy early this morning causing the deaths of about one hundred people. Switzerland is deeply saddened by this tragedy in a neighbouring country. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Hans-Rudolf Merz, has sent a telegram of condolence to his Italian counterpart, Giorgio Napolitano. Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey has also expressed her condolences to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini.
The Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation was ready to send rescuers and materials to the affected area in the event of Italy asking for help. However, the Italian authorities thanked Switzerland for its offer, but indicated this afternoon that it did not need international assistance.
According to available information, there are no Swiss nationals among the victims.