An Italian seismologist predicted a major earthquake around L’Aquila, just weeks before the disaster struck. However, he was reported to the authorities for spreading panic.
The first tremors in the region were felt in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, creating a growing alarm in the city.
When questioned on whether the government heeded the warnings, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went on the defensive. “It is impossible to predict something like this,” he said. “There is no one who can say when the next shock will come, in the next hours or coming days.”
Vans with loudspeakers drove round the town warning residents to prepare for a major earthquake, a move which incensed the mayor.
Giampaolo Giuliani, the scientist who made the discovery, said: “The instrument we used identified the point and we saw the seismic precursor, a sign that a quake is on the way within 6 to 24 hours.”
Meanwhile, as the rescue work continues, the question as to whether the government correctly safeguarded its citizens remains unanswered.