05/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Berlusconi's Earthquake Gaffe Causes Outrage

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has caused outrage (again) for apparently making a disrespectful comment about the thousands of survivors of Monday's earthquake in Italy. Berlusconi told a German TV reporter that the 17,000 earthquake survivors should simply pretend they are on a "camping weekend," reports the Times Online.

Touring camps set up for survivors of Monday's disaster, in which at least 250 people were killed, Mr Berlusconi told a reporter from N-TV: "They have everything they need, they have medical care, hot food... Of course, their current lodgings are a bit temporary. but they should see it like a weekend of camping."

Berlusconi got into trouble twice last week for gaffes made during the G-20 and NATO meetings. He appeared to upset Queen Elizabeth II by shouting over her shoulder at President Obama, and then he appeared to upset German chancellor Angela Merkel by chatting on his cell phone rather than formerly greeting her in Germany.

But being insensitive to the victims of Italy's worst earthquake in three decades seems to be in its own category. As the Times reports, "his comments to the German TV station must rank among the most undiplomatic of a long career that has seen him comparing a German MEP with a concentration camp guard and describing Mr Obama, two days after his election as president, as "young, handsome and suntanned"."

The Guardian, however, reports that the actual video clip produced by the German TV station does not show the clip.

But a video clip from the interview featured on the site did not contain the remark, which is bound to prompt intense controversy.

See a slideshow of the earthquake:

italy earthquake

For more on the earthquake in Italy, go here.

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