All of us join in prayer for the victims and survivors of the earthquake that devastated the Abruzzo region of Italy early this morning. I know from a friend in Rome that tremors were felt there, sixty miles to the West.The Guardian has a helpful map showing the region, the epicenter, and the fault lines that traverse the Italian peninsular.Italy being Italy, polemics have already begun. But a sober statement comes from the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute:
"Every time there is an earthquake there are people who claim to have predicted it," he said. "As far as I know nobody predicted this earthquake with precision. It is not possible to predict earthquakes."He said the real problem for Italy was a long-standing failure to take proper precautions despite a history of tragic quakes. "We have earthquakes, but then we forget and do nothing. It's not in our culture to take precautions or build in an appropriate way in areas where there could be strong earthquakes," he added.
Update:A second quake hit L'Aquila a few hours ago. Here is the report from the Turin daily, La Stampa:
Ancora paura in Abruzzo. Una nuova forte scossa di terremoto di magnitudo 5.3 si verificata nellaquilano alle alle 19.42. La scossa stata avvertita oltre che in tutto lAbruzzo anche nel frusinate, nel Lazio e nelle Marche. Questultimo terremoto ha provocato altre vittime, con certezza una nella frazione Santa Rufina di Roio. Nuovi crolli sono stati segnalati un p dappertutto nei centri vicino allAquila dove crollata, quasi interamente, la basilica delle Anime Sante, in piazza Duomo.Further fear in Abruzzo. A new quake registering 5.3 took place at 7:42 p.m. The basilica of the Holy Souls in Piazza Duomo of L'Aquilla collapsed.
The death toll stands at 229. The La Stampa link provides photos and videos as well.