Most of the town of Gemona was completely destroyed, as were the nearby towns of Buia, Colloredo, Osoppo, Venzone, Forgaria and Maiano. Some 157,000 people were left homeless while over 70,000 buildings were declared unusable. But while the Friuli-Venezia earthquake has not been Italy’s deadliest.
Italy is one of the most tectonically active countries in Europe. The country has a long history of earthquakes, with one in Sicily dating back to 1169, killing at least 15,000 people.
Here are some of the most destructive ones since the turn of the 20th century:
- September 8th 1905. An earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck the southern Calabria region, from the city of Cosenza in the north to Reggio Calabria in the south, killing at least 2,500 people and destroying 25 villages.
- December 28th 1908. Just a few years later, a double catastrophe reduced Reggio Calabria and Messina, Sicily’s second-biggest city, to rubble. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake was followed by a tsunami, which between them claimed 80,000 lives. Many of the survivors either migrated to other Italian cities or the United States.
- January 13th 1915. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the town of Avezzano, in the central Abruzzo region, killing at least 33,000 people.
- July 23rd 1930. Some 1,400 people were killed and up to 7,000 injured when a quake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit Irpinia, a region of the southern Apennine Mountains.
- November 23rd 1980. Fifty years later, 2,700 people died and more than 7,500 were injured when a 6.5 magnitude quake struck the southern Campania and Basilicata regions. In the town of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, 27 children died in an orphanage, while in Balvano, 100 people were killed when a medieval church was destroyed during Sunday mass.
- April 6th 2009. The next deadliest earthquake occurred in the Abruzzo region in 2009, with L’Aquila, a 13th century city, being the worst affected. The 6.3 magnitude quake left 308 people dead, more than 1,500 injured and over 65,000 homeless.
- September 26th 1997. Two quakes, within just a few days of eachother, and measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, claimed 13 lives in the Umbria region. More than 40,000 people lost their homes. The quake also seriously damaged the St Francis Basilica in Assisi.
- October 31st 2002. Thirty people, mostly children, were killed when a school collapsed amid a 5.9 magnitude in Campobasso, in the south-central Molise region.
- May 20th-29th 2012. Two major earthquakes struck the northern Emilia-Romagna region, killing 27 people and causing widespread damage.