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Italian authorities stopped expert who tried to warn victims before earthquake



Italy 'Dismissed Expert's Quake Warning'

An Italian scientist who predicted a serious earthquake in central Italy but was dismissed as a scaremonger said: "The authorities have these deaths on their conscience."

Seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani had warned "a big one" was on the way and even toured the region in a van with loudspeakers warning people, as late as last week.

But he was reported to the police by authorities for "needlessly spreading panic" and also dismissed by L'Aquila's mayor and other civic officials.

Dr Giuliani based his theory on increasingly high levels of radon gas that had been noted in the area and even posted his findings on his website.

However, he was forced to take them down and the site has not been working.

Dr Giuliani, who works at the Institute of Nuclear Physics at nearby Gran Sasso, said: "There are people who need to apologise to me. These people will have these deaths on their conscience."

This morning I could see what was about to happen and I could do nothing because I could not turn to anyone because I had been warned not to say anything about an earthquake.

"Now there are deaths and thousands of people without a home. It is a dramatic situation which the region didn't even go through during the bombing of the Second World War.

"We saw houses moving and it was a tremendous sensation which, for me at the time, was tinged with anger.

"People had dismissed me as a crank and said terrible things about me.

"I was called an idiot and told that earthquakes just cannot be predicted.

"Now I am trembling with anger because of the seriousness of the situation and people now need to say sorry."

He went on: "The main person who should apologise is Guido Bertolaso, the head of the civil protection department.

"There are other civic officials in the L'Aquila region who now have a heavy weight on their conscience."

But Enzo Boschi, Italy's leading vulcanologist and earthquake expert, said: "There is no way that anyone can predict a tremor."


SOURCE

Sky News, "Italy 'Dismissed Expert's Quake Warning'", 6 April 2009.
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Italy-Dismissed-Scientist-Who-Predicted-Earthquake-As-A-Scaremonger/Article/200904115256828

FURTHER READING

Daily Express, "ITALY QUAKE WARNING WAS IGNORED", 7 April 2009.
http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/93732/They-ignored-my-warnings-of-the-big-one-
    ITALIAN authorities were accused of having “deaths on their conscience” last night after ignoring warnings about yesterday’s deadly earthquake which claimed at least 150 lives.
    ...
    The number of injured has reached 1,500 and up to 100,000 people were made homeless. Entire medieval towns were razed when the earthquake struck as people lay asleep early yesterday.
    Around 250 people are still missing and 15,000 buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
    Incredibly, it emerged that seismo­logist Gioacchino Giuliani had warned “the Big One” was coming and even toured the region in a van with loudspeakers warning people as late as last week.
    But he was reported to the police by authorities for “needlessly spreading panic” and was dismissed by L’Aquila’s mayor and other civic officials.
    ...
    Dr Giuliani based his theory on increasingly high levels of radon gas that had been noted in the area and even posted his findings on his website but he was forced to take them down and yesterday the site was offline.
    He said: “I could see what was about to happen and I could not do anything because I had been warned not to say anything about an earthquake.
    ...
    More than 5,000 emergency workers risked aftershocks while searching whole villages which had been flattened by the powerful quake that measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.
    The disaster zone was transformed into a massive refugee camp with tents for many of the hordes of homeless. But relief work was overshadowed by Dr Giuliani’s claims that dozens of lives could have been saved if his warnings had been heeded.
    ...
    One ­village, Onna, near L’Aquila, was said to have been “wiped off the map”. All its houses were destroyed and in fields ­outside coffins were lined up in rows as estimates of the dead reached 50 out of its 400 population.
    ...


Metro, "Scientist who predicted Italy quake sent to police", 6 April 2009.
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/world/article.html?Scientist_who_predicted_Italy_quake_sent_to_police&in_article_id=611410&in_page_id=64
    An Italian scientist who predicted a major earthquake around L'Aquila weeks ago was reported to authorities for spreading panic.
The first tremors in the region were felt in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, creating mounting alarm in the medieval city, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Rome.
    Vans with loudspeakers had driven around the town a month ago telling locals to evacuate their houses after seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani predicted a large quake was on the way, prompting the mayor's anger.
    ...
    Italy's Civil Protection agency held a meeting of the Major Risks Committee, grouping scientists charged with assessing such risks, in L'Aquila on March 31 to reassure the townspeople.
    "The tremors being felt by the population are part of a typical sequence ... (which is) absolutely normal in a seismic area like the one around L'Aquila," the civil protection agency said in a statement on the eve of that meeting.
    As the media asked questions about the authorities' alleged failure to safeguard the population ahead of the quake, the head of the National Geophysics Institute dismissed Giuliani's predictions.
    ...

"The Insider" mailing list article, 07 April 2009.

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