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Jailed for failing to predict deadly quake

The scene after the deadly 2009 earthquake in Italy.

ITALY — An Italian court has convicted and jailed six scientists and a government official of manslaughter for failing to give adequate warning of the deadly earthquake in 2009.

The city of L’Aquila was decimated by the killer quake, which measured more than 6.3 on the Richter Scale and killed more than 300 people.

Now the group of seven, all members of an official body called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, have been found guilty of negligence and malpractice in their evaluation of the danger of an earthquake and their duty to keep the city informed of the risks.

The case has drawn wide condemnation from international bodies including the American Geophysical Union, which said the risk of litigation may deter scientists from advising governments or even working to assess seismic risk.

A 6.3 strength earthquake struck L’Aquila, in Italy’s Abruzzo region at 3:32 a.m. on April 6, 2009, wrecking tens of thousands of buildings, injuring more than 1,000 people and killing hundreds of others in their sleep.

At the heart of the case was whether the government-appointed experts gave an overly reassuring picture of the risks facing the town, which contained many ancient and fragile buildings and which had been partially destroyed three times by earthquakes over the centuries. (Daily Mail)

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