New Archival Evidence on the 1977 Vrancea, Romania Earthquake and Its Impact on Disaster Management and Seismic Risk

  • Emil-Sever Georgescu
  • Antonios Pomonis
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Natural Hazards book series (SPRINGERNAT)


The March 4, 1977, Vrancea earthquake was Romania’s greatest natural disaster in the 20th century. Today, forty years later, its impact, but also post-disaster actions and policies, continue to influence seismic risk. Based on lessons learnt, an improved seismic design code was introduced in 1978 for new construction, but in July 1977 for damaged buildings all strengthening projects were abruptly stopped by a high level political order that allowed only local—often cosmetic- repairs. After 1989, many state archives have been opened, helping us deepen our understanding of how disaster management was conducted in that time. This paper reveals new findings and data on building damage and human casualties. This new evidence suggests that nearly a quarter of the lives lost in Bucharest were not in collapsed multi-story buildings, but in other, yet to be investigated, locations. Also new evidence about the unidentified victims lifts popular doubts on this issue. Lastly, the authors analyze the July 4, 1977, government decision to end the seismic reinforcement of damaged buildings and the debate at the time between specialists and government officials.


Building damage and collapse Casualties Strengthening Repair Bucharest Civic center 



The authors express their gratefulness to the NIRD URBAN-INCERC, Bucharest, Romania for providing a framework of research activity and related documentary data, as well as for the financing of Ministry of Research and Innovation within the Nucleu Programme CRESC, Project PN 16 10.01.01, “Integrated concept of seismic monitoring and instrumentation to characterize seismic safety…”, Phase 3/2017.

A first-shorter version of this paper, published in Proceedings of The 6-th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering and 2-nd National Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, Bucharest, Romania, June 14–17, 2017, was co-authored with Dr. Karin Steinbrueck, Independent Scholar, Evanston, IL, USA. Without her archive research efforts this publication would not have been possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Research and Development—URBAN-INCERCBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Cambridge Architectural Research LtdCambridgeUK

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