Italy Earthquake: Was Destruction Caused By Faulty Building Practices?

Italy is still feeling the impact of the devastating 6.2 earthquake that struck the country in the early hours of Wednesday morning last week. As of this writing, the number of casualties sits at 290. Due to the high death toll, some places are holding mass funerals. Ascoli Piceno is one of these towns. According to WXII12, the local gym in Ascoli Piceno has been converted to a funeral home. Maria, a woman attending the mass funeral commented on how the community is trying to get their lives back on track.

“Community is very important. In small villages like this. The relationship with the land and those you love, with our family, is very, very strong. It will be even stronger. We won’t give up.”

Now that some time has elapsed, some in Italy are questioning why the death toll was so high. By asking the tough questions, officials in Italy are starting to consider that the way buildings were built could potentially hold the key as to why so many people died from the latest earthquake. Giuseppe Saieva is one of the people who is coming out and publicly questioning whether the buildings were built up to code. Saieva, an attorney in Rieti, Italy spoke to the Canadian Herald and he has stated that the loss of life “cannot only be considered the work of fate.”

A large piece of evidence that the people of Italy are using as proof of poor building practices is an elementary school in Amatrice. This particular school was completely renovated just four years ago. The cost of the renovation was 700,000 euros. After the 6.2 earthquake last week, the school was destroyed, leaving a pile of rubble in its wake.

The destruction of the school has left the people of Italy shocked simply because the renovations were said to have made the building earthquake proof. Luckily, the earthquake struck in the middle of the night and the school was empty. The death toll would likely have been much higher if the school was in session when the ground began to shake.

Making sure the schools are safe from earthquakes has been a priority in Italy and Italian officials promised they would do whatever was necessary to ensure student safety due to the disaster that happened in 2002. Back in 2002, an earthquake struck the town of San Giuliano di Puglia. During the catastrophe, a first-grade class, and a teacher, were all killed.

Aside from the school being destroyed, a bell tower that recently had work done to it also collapsed. During the collapse, a family of four was killed when the tower crushed their house. The work done on the tower should have made it less prone to collapse from a 6.2 earthquake.

With relief efforts underway, Italian officials are working hard to ensure corruption does not infect the rebuilding process. Franco Roberti, Italy’s national anti-terrorism prosecutor commented on the potential for the mafia to get involved in the rebuilding process.

“This risk of infiltration is always high. Post-earthquake reconstruction is historically a tempting morsel for criminal groups and colluding business interests.”

What would have happened if the buildings that were destroyed were built according to the proper construction code? According to Roberti, “parts of buildings can be damaged and cracked but they don’t pulverize and implode.” Had the buildings been able to withstand the 6.2 earthquake, one can assume that the death toll would be lower than it currently is.

With the earthquake having occurred in Italy, many have been asking about when the Pope would be visiting the areas that were devastated. During his weekly address on Sunday, Pope Francis stated that he would soon bring the people “the comfort of faith.”

Do you think the buildings that were destroyed in Italy’s earthquake were not built properly?

[Image Via AP Photo/Andrew Medichini]