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A Seismic Crime

NEW YORK – Few people outside Italy are aware that six seismologists and a government official are on trial in the small city of L’Aquila. But the story has implications for scientists, engineers, administrators, and legal systems far beyond Italy’s borders.

L’Aquila was largely destroyed by earthquakes in 1461 and 1703. The city was rebuilt, eventually grew to more than 73,000 inhabitants, and remained stable for more than 300 years – until October 2008, when tremors began again. From January 1 through April 5, 2009, 304 additional tremors were reported.