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Italy Charges Seismologists With 'Manslaughter' for Not Predicting an Earthquake

"The seven were placed under investigation almost a year ago..."

At first glance, I suspected this to be a story from The Onion, but it is quite real.

Earthquakes are usually not a matter of "IF" but "WHEN." But Italy is blaming a group of six seismologists and a government official for not suitably predicting a deadly earthquake.

Most scientists believe that earthquakes are inevitable, but it is virtually impossible to predict when they will occur. However, Italy has charged a group of seismologists with manslaughter because they did not adequately predict the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake that killed 308 people.

Yahoo news reported the story of the indictment;

The decision to try the six members of a committee tasked with determining the risk of an earthquake in the area (along with a government official) was announced on Wednesday (May 25) by Judge Giuseppe Romano, according to a news article from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

More details are also posted on the AAAS webpage;

The seven were placed under investigation almost a year ago, and today L'Aquila Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella announced that they will be tried. According to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Gargarella said that the seven defendants had supplied "imprecise, incomplete and contradictory information," in a press conference following a meeting held by the committee 6 days before the quake. In doing so, they "thwarted the activities designed to protect the public," the judge said.

The scientific community has searched for indicators of coming earthquakes for centuries, monitoring everything from small quake "storms" to animal behavior in the hours and days before big quakes have hit. To date, nothing has delivered data that would be considered valid or a reliable indicator of a pending quake.

The trial starts in September and could last between six months and two years.

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