Earthquake Preparedness Budget Approved

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JERUSALEM, Israel - A government committee on earthquake preparedness will have a $38 million annual budget to reinforce hospitals, schools and other public buildings in the event of a major earthquake.

The committee, which designated specific responsibilities for each government office, asked that each office present a plan for dealing with a natural disaster, including rebuilding damaged property, within three months.

Before the government votes on the committee's recommendations, the Finance Ministry will provide documentation of source funding.

A previous budget, which was approved in December 2008 to reinforce government buildings, was never implemented.

"[The decision marks the] first step toward beginning the process of preparing for an earthquake, but there is still a long road ahead and many steps must be taken to improve the state's preparedness for a major disaster," Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, who also chairs the ministerial committee, said following the meeting.

The catastrophic earthquakes in Haiti and Chili prompted the government to move the project forward. The committee has not yet set a timeframe to implement the earthquake preparedness project.

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YNet news contributed to this report.

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