As long as we are on medieval topics…

Science magazine reports that Enzo Boschi, the president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and his fellow seismologists have been charged with manslaughter after they allegedly didn’t alert the residents of L’Aquila in Central Italy before a quake hit that town and killed 308 residents.

This might seem insanely harsh. Seismologists do work hard at trying to discover when and where a quake might hit.

However, in this case, it seems that these seven, all of whom sit on Italy’s major risks committee, reportedly offered certain words of reassurance that caused some residents of L’Aquila not to abandon their homes, but to stay in an area that had previously experienced some smaller quakes.

Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella reportedly offered that the seven had held a televised press conference six days before the quake and offered “imprecise, incomplete, and contradictory information.”

Some might wonder whether this is what scientists regularly do, however certain their words might sometimes seem. However, Garagarella reportedly further accuses Franco Barberi, the vice chairman of the committee, of specifically stating that no quake was to be immediately expected in the area.

This reassurance, Gargarella reportedly claimed to Corriere Della Serra, “thwarted the activities designed to protect the public.”

The story is here, other versions here, here is what the same guy said May 11, and for the pointer I thank John Bailey.  I predict a boom in Italian earthquake forecasts.


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