Genoa summit: Genoese count the cost of the damage to their home

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Citizens of Genoa who had left town for a few days to avoid trouble during the summit were drifting back into town yesterday and viewing the destruction wreaked by two days of anti-globalisation riots.

Citizens of Genoa who had left town for a few days to avoid trouble during the summit were drifting back into town yesterday and viewing the destruction wreaked by two days of anti-globalisation riots.

Preliminary estimates place the damage tally in the historic port city as high as £15m. The government had set aside £500,000 for possible damage, before the summit began.

"I can't believe they let this happen," said Giuseppe, 52, a retired wharf worker, as he stood in front of the apartment block where his daughter lives. Firemen were using a crane to bash in jagged edges of windows in the seafront Piazza Rossetti, scene of one of Saturday's most long-running and violent battles between police and protesters.

"This has been the worst working weekend of my life and we will be flat out for weeks," said one fireman.

Further along the palm tree-lined boulevard, a young couple and their eight-year-old daughter were looking at the charred remains of a bank building. There was still a smell of smoke in the air "What is that 'A' with a circle?" asked the young girl, seeing the painted symbol.

The rubbish collectors scooped up tonnes of trash from the roads each night. It will take days if not weeks to assess the extent of the damage to the city which had undergone a £70m face lift to make itself beautiful for world visitors.

A provisional tally by the town council reports damage to 83 cars, of which 24 burnt, 41 shops, 34 banks, nine post offices and 16 petrol pumps.

Also damaged were nine phone booths, 22 skips and 23 sets of traffic lights and bollards.

Mayor Giuseppe Pericu said the government has promised a £3m to £5m package to reimburse residents whose property was destroyed

"Residents have a right to be reimbursed. Handling the summit was the government's responsibility and damages were incurred. I hope the city will soon forget its physical wounds but the psychological scars will remain," he said.

"I feel like I have been assaulted," said Luciana, a local schoolteacher who took part in the big march on Saturday. "The violence and the tragedy of these days will mark these squares and streets for ever"

As the police tanks move off, the hated metal cordon is dismantled and a stunned and disoriented Genoa tries to return to normality. In the piazza where a 23-year-old Genoese civilian was shot dead by a 20-year-old doing national service with the carabinieri, the street sign has been altered. Someone has crossed out Piazza Alimonda and rebaptised it in felt pen Piazza Carlo Giuliani.

What is clear after Genoa is that such summits will never be the same again, but world leaders insisted that they would not abandon their dialogue because of street riots which have dogged such meetings since 1999.

Tony Blair said: "It would not be just a mistake but a very dangerous thing if the leaders, democratically elected leaders, felt unable to come together to discuss issues which are of vital importance to our people."

Canada will host the next annual G8 summit from June 26-28 in 2002 but the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, said his fellow summiteers had agreed to scale down the event, sending fewer delegates to the "informal meeting of leaders."

An estimated 2,000 delegation members – including staff assistants, communications personnel and assorted security officers – descended on Genoa.

Mr Chretien said that each delegation attending the next G8 summit in the Rockies resort of Kananaskis, 40 miles west of Calgary, would be limited to about 30 members.

The hotel in Kananaskis has room for only 350 delegates and if more want to go "they'll have to bring their sleeping bags," Mr Chretien said.

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