Wednesday, November 07, 2012

L’Aquila sentence: Press Release of the Hellenic Association for Earthquake Engineering

It is with great regret that we have been informed about the primary conviction of seven Italian scientists, considered responsible for the loss of human life during the recent earthquake in L'Aquila. With deepest respect for each and every human life lost due to this natural disaster, the Hellenic Society for Earthquake Engineering, would like to note the following:

- It is commonly accepted within the scientific community worldwide, that there cannot be a short-term prediction of earthquakes, nor can it be an accurate determination of the space, time and intensity of a future seismic event. For this reason, it is practically impossible to take any essential precaution measures for the protection of citizens in an area that is sufficiently narrow and within a reasonably short period of time. Citizens and the State ought to know the limits of scientific knowledge and to accept the large uncertainties associated with the prediction of seismic activity, which is unfortunately still impossible to overcome. From a scientific point of view and in accordance with all international guidelines and state-of-practice, the Italian colleagues acted as any other scientist would have in a similar position.
- The criminalization of the inherent scientific inability to exceed the current state of knowledge, is not only unjust for the persons in charge of the Italian National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, who have contributed at a great extent in the mitigation of seismic risk. It is expected to inactivate all relevant Civil Protection Departments in Italy and worldwide, which will be reluctant to act in the future based on actual data. This phobic crisis management may also result into a seriously misleading assessment of the probabilistic nature of seismic hazard. This fact alone may have severe consequences on the economic and social life of all regions exposed to seismic risk internationally. Most importantly, it raises serious questions regarding the way in which the State and society view the scientific progress as a whole.
Based on the above, we would like to express the full and unreserved support of the Hellenic Department of Earthquake Engineering to the convicted colleagues. We do hope that the Italian Authorities will beneficially assess the validity of our allegations.
Prof. Kyriazis Pitilakis                                                                                                                                                     
Chairman of the HSEE 
Assist. Prof. Anastasios Sextos
Secretary of HSEE 

Member  of  the  Ιinternational  Association  for  Earthquake  Engineering
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