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Italy earthquake: modern buildings, not ancient ones, pose biggest threat (+video)

The Italy earthquake suggests that danger lies not so much in ancient monuments as in the many buildings constructed between the late 1940s and the early 1970s.

Earthquake damages Italian heritage
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On Friday a group of Italian architects wrote an open letter criticizing the lack of security standards for private and public buildings in Italy, warning that there are “6 million buildings facing grave seismic risks.”
The document, bearing the signature of the National Council of Architects (the document can be viewed, in Italian, here), went unnoticed until Sunday, when a magnitude-5.9 earthquake shook northern Italy, leaving at least seven people dead and 4,000 homeless.

Yesterday's quake was the third major earthquake to hit Italy in the past decade. It was not the strongest, nor did it cause the most damage, but it is a reminder of the importance of building standards in the country.  Similar to the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake that almost destroyed the entire city of L'Aquila in central Italy (read Monitor coverage here), the Sunday quake has prompted public questioning about the alleged lack of prevention measures to avoid high casualties. 

Hardest hit by the earthquake was the Emilia Romagna province in northern Italy, a region renowned for its culinary exports, such as Parmesan cheese, lasagna, and tortellini. It is also well known for its medieval architecture. And, while images of a collapsed 13th century tower in the ancient town of Finale Emilia have been broadcast worldwide, it was the collapse of a modern building in a suburb of Ferrara that was most deadly, killing four men.

Aftershocks continued throughout the afternoon on Monday.


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