Mortality and Morbidity Risk in the L’Aquila, Italy Earthquake of 6 April 2009 and Lessons to be Learned

  • D. E. Alexander
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 29)


In the earthquake of 6 April 2009 at L’Aquila, Abruzzo Region, Italy, 308 people died and more than 1,500 were injured. The event and its consequences for injury epidemiology are analysed here. Anomalous patterns of mortality included an excessively high death toll in the 20–29 age group and among women aged 30–39. Mortality is compared with the demographics of L’Aquila and Abruzzo Region. In relation to aggregate patterns of social activity the paper then explores what patterns of injury might have developed if the earthquake had occurred at a different time of day. Secondly, as mortality was nocturnal and thus largely limited to vernacular housing, profiles are developed of characteristic patterns of building collapse leading to injury with respect to a prototype unreinforced masonry building and an apartment building in reinforced concrete which together characterise vernacular housing in the area. Initial findings suggest that social class was an important determinant of mortality among residents (although perhaps not among students and other temporary residents). Knowledge of building failure modes can offer some ideas about how improved self-protective behaviour could help reduce the likelihood of death or injury. This chapter considers the obstacles to developing personal protection and offers a scale that relates damage to injury potential. With reference to the building failure modes encountered at L’Aquila, it proposes a basic strategy for minimising risk of injury during earthquakes. To be truly learned, lessons must be incorporated into disaster risk reduction. In seismic zones, this must involve developing a culture of earthquake readiness among ordinary people.


Reinforce Concrete Damage Level Disaster Risk Reduction Death Toll Reinforce Concrete Building 
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I thank the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for the opportunity to participate as a member of their reconnaissance teams in L’Aquila, and also Dr Fausto Marincioni for valuable discussion and assistance with the work on which this paper is based.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CESPRO – Centre for Risk and Civil Protection StudiesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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