Italian scientists acquitted of culpability in L'Aquila quake

Seven natural disaster specialists had previously been convicted of manslaughter for not being emphatic enough about the 2009 quake, which killed 309 people, but that conviction's been overturned by an appeals court.

At a special meeting held to calm anxious residents a week before the 6.3-magnitude quake hit, the panel concluded that it was "unlikely" that a big earthquake would follow the tremors, but also stressed that "there are no instruments to make forecasts."

The former deputy chief of Italy's civil protection authority, Bernardino de Bernadinis, told press at the time that there was "no danger" because the small shocks were acting to relieve seismic pressure.

Relatives of the victims claimed that such reassurances had persuaded many residents to remain in their homes, thus causing their death in the quake. The relatives took legal action against the experts, leading to their conviction.

Court acquits natural disaster experts over L'Aquila quake [Deutsche Welle/AP]

(via IO9)

(Image: Burning at the stake. An illustration from an mid 19th century book, Public Domain)