News / Europe

    Italian Scientists Convicted of Not Warning of Earthquake

    Collapsed church building from 2009 earthquake in central Italy
    Collapsed church building from 2009 earthquake in central Italy
    VOA News
    An Italian court on Monday convicted seven scientists and experts of manslaughter for underestimating the risks of a killer earthquake and failing to adequately warn citizens before it struck the central Italian town of L'Aquila in 2009.

    More than 300 people were killed, tens of thousands were left homeless, and the town's historic center and medieval churches were destroyed in the 6.3-magnitude quake.

    Prosecutors argued that the defendants - members of a national panel that assesses major risks - offered "incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information" to residents. The international scientific community denounced the trial, noting that predicting earthquakes is impossible. Even early warning systems, which rely on a network of sensors to detect surface seismic waves that precede larger quakes, can provide residents only 10 to 60 seconds advance notice, and then, only in areas where those sensors are in place.

    After the April quake, seismologists and other experts blamed lax building codes for the deaths and damage. In many earthquake-prone parts of the world, shoddy construction practices lead to many more deaths than would occur if homes and other buildings were more structurally sound.

    The trial opened last September and was adjourned for more than a year, until resuming this month. The defendants have been sentenced to six years in prison, but they are unlikely to face jail while their legal appeals are pending.

    Some observers have expressed concern that the convictions will make other experts and public officials reluctant to share their expertise, to avoid any legal repercussions.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Sawaki no Oyabun from: Japan
    October 27, 2012 7:36 PM
    I do not understand why these scientists should be blamed.
    This case shows that Italian people have no ability to understand science and technology. They move only by passion.

    by: Patty from: Germany
    October 25, 2012 3:11 AM
    Hello,
    In fact we do not agree with the sentence, if you check Italian earthquake history you will notice that in this part of Italy not felt tremors are almost daily. There was no way to predict this earthquake.
    Scientists all over the world share the opinion that a sure way to predict a major quake is not known and maybe because of this verdict will never be! Which scientist will invest time in this subject if he can be sentenced to jail ?

    Therefore we started a Facebook site and try to build up a lobby for the scientist we still need a lot of voices to be heard, and above all we need international support. So if you are interested in supporting us please join us on: http://www.facebook.com/groups/370853069666172/
    Many thanks for your support!

    by: kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
    October 23, 2012 4:43 AM
    Italy will next find its meteorologists guilty for getting the weather wrong.

    by: Looneytoonsindville from: Dville, USA
    October 23, 2012 12:00 AM
    The global warming crowd had better be paying attention! Global warming stopped 16 years ago!

    by: Chris Tromley from: USA
    October 22, 2012 8:51 PM
    My heart weeps for all the educated Italians who must now feel like exiles in their own country. Perhaps it would help if all the people at Finmeccanica, Olivetti, Beretta, Italcantieri, Laverda, Acca, Pirelli, Serono, and all the other Italian tech firms rose up in outrage at their own judicial system relegating them to the dark ages. What a colossal embarrassment.

    by: J. J. Smith from: USA
    October 22, 2012 8:37 PM
    I think this is a sad commentary on justice. The scientist could no way have predicted the earthquake. The court was just looking for scapegoats. Sort of like blaming God.

    by: Aaron from: USA
    October 22, 2012 8:05 PM
    Italy: proving yet again that an ancient lineage is no guarantee of intelligence.

    by: Jeff Vachon from: Ventura, CA
    October 22, 2012 8:04 PM
    This is insanity! I live in California where the threat of an earthquake is constant. If I or my loved ones are killed in a quake I'm certainly not going to blame the seismologists!

    by: Riley Carson from: Canberra
    October 22, 2012 7:56 PM
    Well let's hope that this legal decision will smarten up some of the other 'predictive' professions. The weather is a prime example which as an igniter and precipitator is responsible for fires and floods.

    On the other hand the trial could boost the stocks of the God bothering groups in the hope that more earnest prayer may avoid these natural calamities.

    I smell the pervasive influence of insurance interests permeating this trial.

    by: newsreader from: Canada
    October 22, 2012 7:53 PM
    Your article is misleading. The scientists were not blamed for “not warning” or “failing to adequately warn citizens.” They were blamed for telling people who were camping out on the streets after a few tremors that they should go back into their homes overnight, because it is safe. And so they did, and the major earthquake hit, causing hundreds of deaths.
    In Response

    by: MikeSDelware from: East Coast USA
    October 23, 2012 6:39 PM
    From the information they had, there was nothing to indicate an immediate problem. They were asked if it was safe and as far as they, or anyone, could tell it was. A taxi driver can tell you which is the best route to take to save time, but he can't predict an accident two cars ahead that leaves you stuck in traffic. Yet they expected these people to not just predict, but to be 100% accurate about things far more complex than traffic. The architects that designed the buildings, and the contractors that built them are far more immediately responsible than those scientists for those deaths.
    In Response

    by: Darrow...for the Prosecut from: Atlanta, GA
    October 22, 2012 11:49 PM
    Thanks for telling the REST of the story.

    Darrow...for the Prosecution
    In Response

    by: Rebecca J from: USA
    October 22, 2012 11:17 PM
    Should we convict the weather person who predicts rain by percentage & turns out to be wrong?
    In Response

    by: Rebecca J from: USA
    October 22, 2012 11:14 PM
    Tomato; tomaaaaato. They are not psychics, 'GOD' did it!!
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora