Manslaughter Charge for Italian Earthquake Scientists?

The Italian media reported last week that local prosecutors in L'Aquila, which was struck last year by an earthquake that killed more than 300 people, are considering charges, including manslaughter, against researchers and officials of National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute (INGV) for dismissing predictions before the catastrophe that a major tremor would soon occur:

"Those involved were highly qualified individuals who should have provided the public with different answers," said L'Aquila's chief prosecutor, Alfredo Rossini. "It was not the case that we received no warning, because there had already been tremors. However, the advice given was that there was no need for people to leave their homes".

Rossini said his office had opened the probe following numerous complaints from members of the public, who had not left their homes that night when the first tremors struck on the basis of that advice. "People died and we could not just ignore this line of investigation," he said. "The preliminary inquiries in this very important probe have now finished, and we hope this next phase meets people's expectations".