The Italy earthquake measured 6.2 and hit just 6 miles beneath the surface of the earth, a shallow depth that multiplied its destructive force, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Apennine mountain belt which runs down the spine of Italy is gradually being stretched in a northeast-southwest direction by tectonic forces at a rate of around 3 mm (0.12 inches) per year, said Richard Walters, lecturer in Earth Sciences at Durham University .
This slow stretching causes stress to build up in the earth’s crust, which is then released in earthquakes just like this one, he said.
It was the most destructive such disaster in Italy since 2009, when a quake killed more than 300 people, left 55,000 homeless and devastated the 13th century city of L’Aquila.
That tragedy once again revealed the fragility of Italy’s infrastructure, with both modern and ancient buildings, including churches, hospitals and a college dormitory in the area destroyed by the quake.
Fabio Tortorici, head of studies at Italy’s Geological Institute, said: Italy can expect an earthquake with a magnitude above 6.3 every 15 years on average. That should encourage a greater culture of seismic prevention and civil protection.
Some things have changed, but more could be done. The real problem lies with properties built before the 1970s when there were zero earthquake norms.
The country was covered in cement which has a very finite life.
Measures to strengthen older buildings across Italy and make them safer would meet fierce resistance given the huge cost of reinforcing every medieval hamlet and Renaissance palace without stripping them of their charm.
Tortorici said the government could offer incentives to encourage a nationwide safety drive.
But since Italy is groaning under the biggest debt mountain in Europe the government can ill-afford generous enticements to the private sector, or the sort of massive investment needed to make all public buildings safe.
News Source MirrorNews