Remembering Another Earthquake

Yesterday we had an unexpected event in New Jersey. We experienced a 4.8 magnitude earthquake in Hunterdon County. As someone who is not accustomed to an earthquake, it was a tad jarring; pardon the pun.

After it was over and I was able to regroup, it made me think of another earthquake. One that was far more devastating.

Terremoto dell’Irpinia

The epicenter of the Irpinia earthquake was two km north of Cairano, Italy on the border of Campania and Basilicata and was 10 km below the surface. (Source: USGS)

The 1980 Irpinia earthquake, also known as the “Terremoto dell’Irpinia,” was a devastating event that struck southern Italy on November 23rd, 1980. The earthquake registered a 6.9 magnitude, caused widespread destruction, and was felt for hundreds of miles.

It is believed at least 2,483 people died, at least 7,700 were injured, and approximately 250,000 were left homeless due to catastrophic building damage. Many towns and villages were severely damaged or even completely destroyed. As the Mezzogiorno region of Italy was still incredibly poor post unification, and had limited resources, the earthquake put the area further in poverty.

The Italian government spent over 59 trillion lira to rebuild Southern Italy (as a point of reference, one US dollar was equal to 856 lira in 1980). However, reconstruction of the region took far longer than it should have. Ultimately, the social and economic effects were widespread. The 1980 Irpinia earthquake remains one of the deadliest earthquakes in Italian history.

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