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Hazardous Living: Italian seismologists tragically convicted of manslaughter

Today, six seismologists and one government official were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison. The seismologists and official had been on trial for not adequately warning the public about the danger of a potential earthquake prior to the L'Aquila earthquake in April 2009 that killed 309 people.

22 Oct 2012

Voices: Italian quakes and deaths point to industrial facilities as death traps

On May 29, eighteen people died in northern Italy when a magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck near the town of Mirandola. Arguably, these deaths were preventable, and they bring up the questions of how we can prevent such deaths in the future. Building codes are key in protecting people. If the most modern buildings collapse while old ones remain standing, something is wrong.

06 Jun 2012

Earliest instrumental temperature record recovered in Italy


In the aftermath of the flood that struck Florence, Italy in 1966, records from the national library became scattered, including the earliest known instrumental temperature records collected by the Medicis in the 1600s. Recently, the temperature records were rediscovered and analyzed for the first time, giving researchers new insight into climate during the Little Ice Age. 

10 May 2012

Hazardous Living: Italian seismologists on trial for manslaughter

Last June, EARTH reported that seven Italian scientists were under investigation and might be charged with manslaughter for not predicting (and warning the public about) the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck L’Aquila, Italy, in April 2009. By last fall, it looked like the charges might be dropped – with the support of many of the world’s seismologists.

26 May 2011

Hazardous Living: Bringing down the house at Pompeii

Heavy rains last week caused the roof of a 2,000-year-old frescoed house at Pompeii to crash in, much to the dismay of the Italian government. The house, thought to have been erected just before Vesuvius buried Pompeii under six meters of ash in A.D. 79, was outside an amphitheatre and had been used by gladiators before going into battle. According to an Associated Press story, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called the cave-in a "disgrace for Italy," and he demanded an explanation.

11 Nov 2010

Voices: Italian seismologists: What should they have said?

In Italy, seismologists who failed to predict the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009 could face manslaughter charges.

01 Jul 2010

Hazardous Living: Geologists to be charged for not predicting earthquake?

News out of Italy suggests that seven researchers who did not predict the L’Aquila earthquake in April 2009 are under formal investigation and may be charged with gross negligent manslaughter.

15 Jun 2010

When and why L'Aquila came tumbling down

Early on the morning of April 6, 2009, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake rocked the Apennine region of central Italy, killing more than 290 people and leaving at least 30,000 homeless. Some 15,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in L’Aquila, the largest city in the region. Although strong, the earthquake was not powerful enough to easily account for the high loss of life in a developed country. The devastation has prompted some researchers to investigate Italy’s seismic safety codes for new construction — but the problem may have more to do with retrofitting older buildings.

14 Jul 2009

Earthquake rocks central Italy

Updated on April 7:

As of April 7, the death toll from the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck central Italy on April 6 has risen to more than 200 people. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency on Monday. On Tuesday, he told reporters that rescue efforts would continue for two more days.

06 Apr 2009