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Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

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Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Panda on Mon 22 Oct - 20:44

Italian Scientists Jailed In Quake Trial


Six scientists and a government official are jailed for six years for failing to give adequate warning of an earthquake.


8:05pm UK, Monday 22 October 2012



Video: Why Experts Are Angry At Verdict
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By Robert Nisbet, Europe Correspondent

A team of Italian scientists has been found guilty of manslaughter for failing to warn citizens of a huge earthquake in 2009.

The team, along with a government official, were jailed for six years in a trial which has infuriated the global scientific community.

Historic buildings cracked and crumbled in the 6.3 magnitude quake in which 309 died and thousands were left homeless in the town of L'Aquila in central Italy.
Mauro Dolce was convicted along with his colleagues
But the following year there was another aftershock. Charges were brought against six government scientists and an official for not sufficiently warning people of the risks of another seismic event.

The seven accused had been part of the region's Major Risks Committee which had met on March 31, six days before the earthquake.

They issued a statement designed to reassure residents after studying tremors in the area, while stressing it was impossible to say when another event may occur.
Bernardo De Bernardinis was deputy chief of the Civil Protection Department
In court, prosecutor Fabio Picuti said they had given "an incomplete, inept, unsuitable and criminally mistaken analysis".

Defence lawyers said the charges in L'Aquila were "medieval", arguing that earthquakes cannot be predicted.

Some 5,000 scientists from around the world sent a letter of protest to the then Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.

Legal experts say the convicted men are likely to remain free from jail until an appeals process is completed

Panda
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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  wjk on Mon 22 Oct - 21:00

I've never heard anything like this, ever!?
I'm sure it will be overturned on appeal.

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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Panda on Tue 23 Oct - 1:07

A siezmologist from the U.S. was interviewed and he said there is no way to accurately predict an exact location and time and had never before heard of Scientists being charged.

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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Not Born Yesterday on Tue 23 Oct - 9:31

I'd class earthquakes as an Act of God - there you are, now we know who to blame!

These charges seem absolutely bonkers to me.

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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Panda on Tue 23 Oct - 9:46

Yes , NBY Italian Justice must be the laughing stock of the World over this.

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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Lioned on Tue 23 Oct - 16:30

I have always thought Michael Fish should have been locked up for missing the Hurricane in 1987.Not necessarily for getting it wrong but for his extraordinary undignified stream of excuses then and ever since.

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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Panda on Tue 23 Oct - 18:01

I remember that .!!! In this case though, it is an earthquake which did irreperable damage and there were 6 Scientists with sophisticated equipment presumably. However,6 yrs jail is draconian and we have yet to hear the Scientists statements.

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Re: Italian Scientists Jailed For not giving adequate warning of Earthquake

Post  Panda on Wed 24 Oct - 7:54

Jailing scientists for not giving sufficient warning of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake is a spectacularly stupid idea



By Tom ChiversWorldLast updated: October 22nd, 2012

218 CommentsComment on this article



Nuns walk past the ruins of a building after the earthquake on April 6, 2009 in L'Aquila

In 2009, an earthquake smashed through the Italian city of L'Aquila. Three hundred and nine people were killed. Now, six scientists have been sentenced to six years in jail for it.

They haven't, of course, been jailed for causing the earthquake (although, perhaps ironically, today we learn that that statement isn't as ridiculous as you might think). They have been jailed, along with a former government official, for not giving sufficient warning of the risks.

In the days before the quake, there had been a large number of smaller tremors. Half of all major earthquakes are preceded by clusters of so-called "foreshocks"; should that not have been a sign? Well, no, because the equation doesn't work so well the other way around: only about one time in 50 does a cluster of small quakes herald a big one.

The fundamental point is that it is, at present, impossible to predict an earthquake. There are various mooted techniques – radon gas detection, electromagnetic changes, seismic anisotropy. But none of them has been shown to work.

Why, then, have six scientists been jailed, apparently for failing to do the impossible? Two reasons. The first is that their evidence led the government official to tell the public that there was "no risk" (and, notoriously, that they should go home and have a glass of wine and relax). That was, of course, not true. There's always a risk: even in seismically inactive regions. In Gujarat, India, in 2001, 12,000 people died when an "intraplate" earthquake smashed the ground thousands of miles from the nearest plate boundary. In a place like L'Aquila, on a faultline, after days of shocks, there was of course a possibility that something bigger was coming. It's just that the possibility still wasn't very big.

The other reason is that in the days before the quake, a local technician was loudly predicting that a disastrous earthquake was about to strike. He used the radon gas detection method – it is hypothesised that rock under stress releases the radioactive gas in detectable amounts. However, even his prediction was off by several miles and a week, and while it may be that he has beaten the world's seismology departments to the invention of a reliable earthquake detector, that would be a surprising turn of events.

The L'Aquila disaster is an extraordinary tragedy, of course. And it is fair to say that the government official should not have issued a statement saying that there is "no risk" – instead, a full breakdown of the risks as they were known would have been better, small though they appeared to be. But this appears to be a classic example of seeking someone to blame because of the emotional demands of such a vast tragedy, rather than because there is a rational reason. As Alan Leshner, the CEO of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, says in an open letter to the President of Italy: "Years of research, much of it conducted by distinguished seismologists in your own country, have demonstrated that there is no accepted scientific method for earthquake prediction that can be reliably used to warn citizens of an impending disaster." He calls the sentence "unfair and naive".

The L'Aquila seven will have to live with what happened for the rest of their lives. But jailing scientists for making a (presumably honest) prediction to the best of their knowledge is a startlingly stupid idea. The next time there are concerns about earthquakes in Italy, what foolhardy seismologist would make a prediction at all?


Tags: earthquake prediction, earthquakes, l'aquila, seismology























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