Thursday, June 11, 2020
In the early hours of 24 August 2016, an earthquake of magnitude (the amount of energy released) 6.2 struck Central Italy, southeast of the Umbrian town of Norcia, followed by violent aftershocks, causing 297 deaths and approximately 400 injured. Serious damage occurred in the regions of Lazio, Umbria and Marche, historically prone to seismic hazards, with the towns of Amatrice being the hardest hit; thousands of people were forced to abandon their homes. A state of emergency was declared by the Italian government in the countrys worst hit regions, and mobile network operators worked quickly to restore services. On October 26 two more violent aftershocks, some as strong as 5.5 magnitude occurred, causing the destruction of many buildings or making them structurally unsafe in several towns n the mountainous central region. Causes Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates, which are driven by convention currents (currents of molten rock that move slowly in the Earths mantle, dragging plates with them). The North-South Fault and the East-West fault are the two fault lines running through Italy, pushing and pulling the country in several directions. As a result the Appennine mountain range, which runs through central Italy, is being stretched in a northeast-southwest direction at a rate of 3mm a year, causing tension and pressure to build up in the rocks. Each time there is a movement in the Eurasian and African plates the built up pressure can be suddenly released as an earthquake. When this occurs, energy is released as seismic waves which spread out from the focus and are felt most strongly at the epicenter. In Amatrices case, the focus was only 5.1km deep, which caused the shaking to be a lot worse and led to severe damage on the surface. Effects As a result of the earthquake, 269 people died and 4,454 were displaced, forced to rely on approximately 58 tent camps. The worst affected region was Marche, where almost 2,000 people lost their homes; Amatrice was one of the worst-affected towns, where more than 80% of the old town centre was destroyed, with a total of 293 damaged or destroyed historic buildings. The foundations of many buildings that had not collapsed were so badly weakened that they would have had to be pulled down. The impact of the earthquake was greatly affected by the fact that most of the buildings in Italy do not meet seismic standards, despite the allocation of 1 billion euros to improve buildings after the 2009 earthquake: this also caused the collapse of the school in Amatrice, although it had been restored in 2012. In addition to this, the earthquake occurred at 3:36 a.m. while people were sleeping, and there was no time to evacuate. Roads and a bridge were damaged as well, causing search and rescue teams to be slowed down. Response and prevention In the aftermath of these earthquakes, the response and recovery of the affected people was helped by rapid access to information and communication. Internet access was crucial so that rescue teams could communicate using as many signals as possible. Hundreds of rescue crews from all around the country, including a six-men team of firefighters from the Vatican, searched the area straddling the regions of Umbria, Marche and Lazio. To monitor these a 24-h emergency control centre was activated in Rome, while the Italian Red Cross worked from a mobile operations centre in the earthquake zone. Camps were set up for those who were forced to leave their homes and emergency items were provided; mobile kitchens functioned for over a week. Knowing that there would be a high demand of blood in the hospitals the national blood donation service appealed for new donators. In order to ensure children were able to return to school as soon as possible, plans were made to enable students to attend classes in neighboring towns. In Amatrice, the government group Civil Protection, that deals with the predicting, planning and managing of major events, prepared prefabricated buildings for 12 classrooms. After the earthquake, many debates about how Italys buildings do not meet seismic standards were raised; however, people also believe in the prevention plan announced later on by the government, which involves an investment of between two to three billion euros each year for the repairing and reconstructing of the damaged buildings. It is clear that, to avoid disastrous consequences by an earthquake in the future, the buildings need to are rebuilt according to seismic standards in order to make them safer.