I wrote this story after visiting the town of L’Aquila, five years since it was devastated by an earthquake that killed over 300 people. The centre was frozen at the time of the disaster. Students’ desks scattered with books were visible through collapsed walls; toothbrushes still visible in a bathroom sink.

The stalled reconstruction was disheartening, but worse was the lack of effort to avoid such a disaster recurring.

Though Italy lies on an active fault line, buildings continue to be constructed without anti-earthquake precautions. A survey of school buildings found just 9 percent were built to withstand a quake. Italy’s scientists warn further disasters are inevitable.

My story was picked up by Scientific American among others.


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