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Monti to help Italy's quake-hit farms, factories
Italian premier inspects quake damage, promises help for small-scale factories, farms
By The Associated Press

ROME (AP) ' Italian Premier Mario Monti has promised to help small businesses, especially factories and farms, in northern Italy that are hurting after an earthquake.

Monti's visit to the Emilia Romagna region on Tuesday included a stop at a ceramics factory where two workers died after it collapsed. In all, the quake that hit early Sunday claimed seven lives.

Monti said a Cabinet meeting later Tuesday will declare a state of emergency for the stricken area. Under consideration is suspending property tax payments while residents rebuild.

The premier expressed confidence there will be a "rapid" rebound for the region. Parmesan cheese production is among the industries hurt by the quake.

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