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The 2009 L’Aquila earthquake occurred in the region of Abruzzo, in central Italy. The main shock occurred at 3:32 on the 6th of April 2009. The Earthquake caused mass destruction, death and loss of homes. It measured 5.9 on the Richter scale and 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale.
The management of the L’Aquila had its strength and weaknesses. Earthquakes are very hard to predict with no single method for pinpointing the exact time of place that an earthquake will hit. Although in L’Aquila’s case there were a number of signals that were not interpreted correctly, when they could and should have been acted on much more efficiently. The failure of a team of 6 scientists who told the region that the earthquake was nothing to worry about and that there was no need to evacuate, were accused of manslaughter and convicted. They were sent to jail for a number of years.
Leading up to the quake there were many pre-shocks, low magnitude earthquakes that occur with high frequency. There were so many pre-quakes that the locals were already suspicious and scared. No one in power acted on these warnings. Giampaolo Giuliani was a self-proclaimed scientist who predicted the earthquake’s location and scale. He used strange techniques that had no method, therefore only a small handful of people believed him. He posted his results online, warning locals although authorities just dismissed his prediction.
If these warnings were interpreted better and acted on, people could of evacuated or prepared themselves. Many lives could have been saved, but instead were lost. Tens of thousands of people lost their homes in the earthquake, in fact the centre of L’Aquila still remains off limits as reconstruction continues. Many modern buildings collapsed during the earthquake, although these new constructions should have easily survived. This was due to poor construction, it was against the law. It was cheaper to pay less qualified builders than to get professionals to do the work. Of course the less qualified builders are not safe, as proved when hundreds of modern buildings collapsed. Building regulations were completely ignored, many corners were cut.
On the other hand there was an enormous positive regard to Italy’s recovery stage. The emergency response was impressive. The main agency responsible for disaster response is the Protezion Civile. They worked together with firefighters, police, ambulance crews and a numerous amount of volunteers. Food and shelter was provided to anyone in need. Search and rescue teams arrived within hours of the earthquake and makeshift hospitals were set up straight away, to aid anyone in need. Within 24 hours L’Aquila’s hospital had been completely replaced by the first of two field hospitals that arrived in the area. The armed forces employed Medivac techniques to get the badly injured patients into a hospital outside of the disaster area. Many camps were set up for the homeless, these were safe and secure environments that they could stay in. Over 10 thousand people were housed in hotels on the coast.
The government needed a long term project to house the homeless. They set up the CASE project. Residents of the state were provided with all the basic necessities, including bedding, electricity, internet, and gas. There was one big problem with the CASE project. L’Aquila was a very community based environment. Locals always met in the local squares, there was a very big community spirit. The new homes however are very anti-social. There are no parks, benches, cafes or anything or that sort. You could be living a few doors down from your friend or family and you wouldn’t even know.
To conclude, it is clear that much more could have been done to improve local self-sufficiency and local participation. There should have been a bigger reaction to the warnings before the earthquake hit. More could have been done to support local industry and communities. There should have been greater cooperation between national agencies and local agencies, to improve motivation. Building regulations should also of been much stricter with professionals checking that buildings are safe. Increased community input into projects and decisions should have been implemented. Long term housing projects needed to have more emphasis on the community.
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