Greece to apply for EUSF relief aid after Cephalonia quake

Greece plans to apply to the European Union's Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for help to cover the cost of repairs following Sunday's 5.9-Richter earthquake on the Ioanian island of Cephalonia.

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn on Wednesday expressed his solidarity with the Greek government and the people of Cephalonia, adding that officials in Brussels will take Athens's request under consideration once it is filed.

Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis, who wrapped up his three-day visit to the quake-hit island late Tuesday, is expected to discuss the issue with Hahn on February 6.

The conservative minister said that building repairs could not start until the aftershocks had subsided.

Numerous residences and public buildings suffered damage in Sunday's earthquake and from a series of strong aftershocks that shook the island in the subsequent days. The road network also needs extensive repairs as the quake caused several fissures and rockfalls.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made an unscheduled overnight stop on Cephalonia late on Tuesday, diverting the government jet that was flying him back from Brussels, where he held meetings following Greece's assumption this month of the rotating EU presidency.

EUSF was set up in the summer of 2002 following severe flooding in Central Europe as a mechanism to help European countries deal with the effects of natural disasters.