Earthquake in Lunigiana – 21 June 2013

UPDATE 27 JUNE: Around 20 churches have suffered damage, with churches at Aiola, Colognola, Monzone Alto, Cortila and Gragnola being declared unsafe.

UPDATE 25 JUNE: More than 70 buildings have now been declared uninhabitable as a result of the earthquake.

We were on the terrace having a relaxed, early lunch. It wasn’t as hot as earlier in the week, when the mercury reached 33 C, and there was a pleasant breeze. The first warning was a bit of a roar. Then the terrace started to move and the sun umbrella took on a life of its own, unconnected with the breeze. Mr Ciao Lunigiana and I looked at each other, and fled into the house to take refuge under a particularly strong archway, where we permanently keep a whistle and some water. This has been our strategy since experiencing the 5.4 magnitude earthquake in January 2012, whose epicentre was at Berceto. We are surrounded by buildings and can’t get to an open space quickly. Not as though we stand much of a chance if things are really bad, as a large part of Malgrate will come toppling down on us.

The 5.2 magnitude earthquake, which was felt throughout Tuscany and as far north as Milan, Turin and Padova, had its epicentre two kilometres outside of Fivizzano and occurred only 5 km underground. It was scary, all that strange movement of normally stationery surfaces. As I write, the tremors continue. There have been dozens of them. Fortunately only one tremor, about two hours after the initial one, reached 4.0 magnitude. The rest have all been two point something. While there has been damage, there has been nothing too major so far, mainly cracks in walls, falling tiles and other objects, and no loss of life, although some injuries have been reported. The Aulla-Lucca railway line was closed for some time while checks were made and schools are closed today as a precaution. The damage in Lunigiana is nothing like the damage caused by the earthquake in Emilia Romagna last year, as the Lunigiana earthquake was 30 times weaker.

earthquake lunigiana

On the first night after the earthquake, over one thousand people slept in tents provided by the emergency services, in gyms or in their cars. Many folk will also be sleeping outside again tonight. Fortunately, the weather is good. Unfortunately, the fear of further seismic activity has been deliberately fuelled on the internet by a fictitious outfit that claims there will be a further, even more serious earthquake. A forecast in 2011 said the region was due for a bad earthquake so it is not surprising that people are worried. The authorities are doing their best to quell the rumour, rightly pointing out that you can’t predict the time an earthquake will occur. The head of the civil protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, is threatening to prosocute those responsible.

Social media of course helped to spread the news of the earthquake. One report estimates that the first reports on Twitter were published 20 or 30 seconds after the earthquake. Therefore, if seismic waves travel at 3-5 km a second and reports in cyberspace at 200 km a second, social media “overtook” the seismic waves in speed after the seismic waves reached about 100 km. Theoretically, if you were tuned into social media, you would know about the earthquake before you felt it, that is if you live in the area but more than 100 km from the epicentre. Now you know.

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Earthquake in Lunigiana – 21 June 2013 appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 22 June 2013. All rights reserved.


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