Civil protection dept in Garfagnana quake-scare furore

Gabrielli denies issuing evacuation order

Civil protection dept in Garfagnana quake-scare furore

Rome, February 1 - Italy's Civil Protection Department on Friday denied issuing an evacuation order for towns in Tuscany's Garfagnana area on the basis of information from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) on the possibility of earthquake activity in the zone. The clarification came after thousands of people spent the night in their cars or in temporary shelters in fear of a repeat of the 4.8-magnitude quake that struck the area on January 25 at 15:48 local time. Late Thursday the INGV informed the Civil Protection Department of possible further tremors centred on the municipality of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana following a series of minor quakes earlier in the day. But they never materialised. The Civil Protection authorities subsequently forwarded the information to regional and provincial authorities, which in turn sent it to the municipalities in question. The local municipal authorities then made the information known to residents in door-to-door campaigns, on institutional websites and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, allegedly spreading panic. However Civil Protection chief Franco Gabrielli said the mayors had behaved ''perfectly'' on the basis of the information given them and that they should not be held responsible for generating alarm, or that the situation should be seen as an attempt by the various institutions to offload responsibility onto one another. Rather he described the scare as the ''poisoned fruit'' of the recent multiple manslaughter conviction handed down by a L'Aquila court to seven former members of Italy's Major Risks Commission for allegedly giving misleadingly reassuring statements before the earthquake that destroyed the Abruzzo city in April 2009.

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