[Environment] DISASTERS: EARTHQUAKES : COUNTRIES: ITALY: Italy Earthquakes Rattle Buildings and Residents Two Months after Disaster

 

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DISASTERS: EARTHQUAKES :

COUNTRIES: ITALY:

Italy Earthquake: Why So Many Houses Collapsed

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Italy Earthquake: Why So Many Houses Collapsed

By Patrick Jackson and Arquata del Tronto

BBC News,

2 October 2016

From the section Europe

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37522660

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While buildings crashed down throughout the region, claiming the lives of 298 people, many structures like Giorgio’s in the town of Ascoli Piceno remained intact. The furniture had moved away from the walls but his flat and the building itself were intact.

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His mother, Maddalena, was not so lucky. A few miles up the River Tronto to the south-east, she stayed terrified in her bed as the quake tore down the front wall of her old stone house near Acquasanta Terme.

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In the villages of Pescara and Arquata del Tronto, houses were reduced to heaps of rubble, killing or injuring their inhabitants.

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But there too some buildings withstood the shock. Even if they have since been condemned, they did serve their primary purpose of shelter.

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Why did houses collapse?

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Settlements in the Tronto Valley have built up over centuries, along the route of an important ancient Roman road, the Via Salaria.

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Primarily made of stone, homes were built without the benefit of modern science and renovated more recently with new materials, sometimes with disastrous results.

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“When reinforced concrete is used on the roof, its weight causes the masonry to fail because the walls beneath cannot sustain it,” says Graziano Leoni, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Camerino, who has been helping assess damage to buildings.

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In Arquata del Tronto, lumps of concrete can be seen in the wrecks of the buildings, with old stone walls burst open like seed pods.

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Another factor may have been the close proximity of buildings of different ages, the professor believes.

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Residents of the valley also fear buildings may have been damaged by loosened rocks or rubble left over from a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the Umbria and Marche regions in 1997.

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Two schools in the quake zone suffered different fates. Despite the widespread destruction in Arquata, the village school withstood the shock because of its solid brick-and-mortar construction, although the damage was enough for it to be rendered unusable.

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But that was not the case in Amatrice, Lazio, where the supposedly earthquake-proof school collapsed, leading to suspicions of shoddy public construction.

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What can be done to make houses safer?

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Italy has developed the expertise to build earthquake-proof homes.
In the city of L’Aquila, devastated by the April 2009 earthquake, housing blocks have been built on columns that dissipate the shock from a tremor: a technique known as base isolation.

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But with such a vast heritage of treasured historic buildings, the country’s challenge is to make safe existing ones too.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
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[Environment] DISASTERS: EARTHQUAKES : COUNTRIES: ITALY: Italy Earthquakes Rattle Buildings and Residents Two Months after Disaster

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