L'Aquila quake experts made 'ineffective' risk evaluation

Court condemns major risks committee for reassurances

L'Aquila quake experts made 'ineffective' risk evaluation

L'Aquila, January 18 - Seven Italian scientists and officials were convicted of multiple manslaughter over the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake for making "ineffective" statements that reassured the population and ignored the real level of risk, the judge presiding over the trial said in the explanation of his verdict published Friday. ''The affirmations made concerning the evaluation of the risks linked to the seismic activity in the L'Aquila area turned out to be absolutely approximate, generic and ineffective,'' wrote Marco Billi. In October the judge sentenced the former second-in-command of Italy's civil protection agency and six others - all then members of Italy's so-called Commission on Major Risks - to six years in prison over the 6.3-magnitude earthquake on April 6, 2009 in the area of the central Abruzzo city of L'Aquila that killed over 300 people and left tens of thousands homeless. The trial focused on a commission meeting of March 31, 2009 in L'Aquila to examine rumblings that had frightened residents for months. In a memo, the experts concluded that it was "unlikely" that there would be a major quake, though it stressed that the possibility could not be ruled out. Billi ruled that inadequate risk assessment and the resulting reassurances led many residents to remain inside on the night of the quake, pushing up the death toll. ''Proper risk assessment should have been accompanied by proper information,'' he explained. The seven defendants have appealed against the ruling and the case is expected to return to court at the end of this year.

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