Italy earthquake: Why did no-one die in the latest disaster in Norcia?

Resultado de imagen de norcia's earthquake  october 2016

When Italy suffered its strongest earthquake in decades on Sunday, multiple buildings collapsed and a number of people were injured. Yet so far there have been no reports of any fatalities.

So why did the villagers in central Italy escape relatively unscathed, even though many lost their homes and belongings?

The magnitude 6.6 quake was far stronger than the 6.0 disaster on 24th August that claimed 298 lives, many of them in the town of Amatrice, an hour’s drive from Norcia.

Thirty-six years earlier, in 1980, a 6.9 magnitude quake near Naples left almost 2,500 people dead, with many more injured and homeless.

The answer, according to a seismologist, is memory and fear.

There was no such gap for Norcia, which has felt the devastating effects of two large earthquakes - including a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the Umbria and Marche regions in 1997 - in the past 40 years. Each time, its buildings were strengthened, its residents reminded of the devastation the earth could cause.

By the time the quake struck Norcia at 07:40 on Sunday, there was no-one in the area who did not remember.

The region has been rocked by four aftershocks since 24th August - two in the last week alone.

Thousands of people have already fled to the safety of relatives’ homes, shelters and hotels on the coast, far away from the towns filled with historic - and more vulnerable - buildings. Others were living in their cars, terrified of their homes collapsing on them as they slept.

Undoubtedly, this will have saved lives. In the village of Ussita, just north of Norcia, a man watched the buildings around him collapse from the safety of his car.

But there is also one other, so far unexplained, reason. Despite registering as a stronger earthquake than the one in August, it may have actually been weaker.

Geologists are trying to work out exactly why.

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