Giampaolo Giuliani predicted the earthquake and posted a video on YouTube. He said there was unusual build-up of radon gas near the seismically active areas and he predicted a major earthquake soon.
Several tremors were felt in the medieval city of L’Aquila, about 60 miles east of Rome, from mid-January onwards. Vans with loudspeakers were driven soon after spreading Giuliani’s warnings to leave their homes.
But the local authorities failed to heed his warnings, and instead reported him to the police for “scaremongering”. The police authorities told him to remove his findings from the internet.
Just as he predicted, the earthquake with 6.3 on the Richter scale hit
L’Aquila at 3:32 am today. So far authorities are claiming 90 people are dead and 50,000 are homeless.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared a state of emergency.
Father Mauro Orru, the local priest in Onna, told the Telegraph
The heavens fell in. It was like the end of the world. I ran into the street in my pyjamas; everything in the house was crashing down - books, crockery, everything was on the floor and the furniture was moving.
Now the residents are angry that Giuliani’s warnings were ignored by the local authorities. Italy’s Civil Protection agency has sent their scientists to calm the townspeople. They released the following press statement:
The tremors being felt by the population are part of a typical sequence ... (which is) absolutely normal in a seismic area like the one around L'Aquila...It is useful to underline that it is not in any way possible to predict an earthquake.
Despite the inability to predict, they will continue to monitor the tremors in the region.
Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute, dismissed Mr. Giuliani's predictions as a fluke. He told Telegraph:
Every time there is an earthquake there are people who claim to have predicted it...As far as I know nobody predicted this earthquake with precision. It is not possible to predict earthquakes.
Boschi said the real problem was that Italy has never taken proper precautions despite enduring a string of earthquakes in the past.
"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."
So far, deaths have been reported in L’Aquila and in neighboring villages of Fossa, Castelnuovo, Poggio Picenza and Tormintarte. The bulk of the damages, however, occurred in L’Aquila, and many homes, churches and university buildings were severely damaged.
This story is reminiscent of the Mokens in Thailand who warned
about the impending tsunami but were dismissed by the local authorities.