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UK's Prince Charles visits quake-hit town in central Italy

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/04/2017
Britain's Prince Charles visits to the 2016 earthquake-hit town of Amatrice, central Italy, Sunday, April 2, 2017. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are in Italy for a week-long trip which includes stops in Rome and the Vatican. (Alessandro Bianchi/Pool Photo via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Prince Charles visits to the 2016 earthquake-hit town of Amatrice, central Italy, Sunday, April 2, 2017. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are in Italy for a week-long trip which includes stops in Rome and the Vatican. (Alessandro Bianchi/Pool Photo via AP)

AMATRICE, Italy — Prince Charles on Sunday visited the center of Amatrice, a mountain town that bore the brunt of central Italy's Aug. 24 earthquake, which killed hundreds of people.

Wearing a hard hat, the prince of Wales was accompanied by the head of Italy's civil protection agency on a half-hour tour that took him to the town's medieval bell tower, which stopped at the hour of the August quake, surviving only to be toppled by the stronger shocks in October.

Charles told the town's mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, that "the people of Britain mind very much what's happened to you all here."

Pirozzi declined to accompany the prince on his foot tour of the center, telling the news agency ANSA he will only enter the town's red zone when it has been rebuilt because he's "looking toward the future."

About 300 people in central Italy were killed in the magnitude-6.1 August quake, the vast majority of them in Rieti province that includes Amatrice. The stronger October temblors, up to magnitude 6.6, created more damage but didn't claim more lives as the most sensitive areas had already been evacuated.

The heir to the British throne is on a three-country trip seen as an effort to reassure European Union nations that Britain remains a close ally despite its impending departure from the bloc. Charles has been to Romania, and will head to Austria with his wife Camilla after his visit to Italy.

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