Un crime sismique

NEW YORK – Hors d’Italie, peu de gens savent que six sismologues et un fonctionnaire sont sur le banc des accusés du tribunal de la petite ville de L’Aquila. Pourtant cette histoire touche directement chercheurs, ingénieurs, administrateurs et appareils judiciaires bien au-delà des frontières de l’Italie.

L’Aquila a été en grande partie détruite par les séismes de 1461 et de 1703. La ville, à chaque fois reconstruite, a vu sa population augmenter jusqu’à un niveau de 73 000 habitants pour s'y maintenir pendant plus de 300 ans, jusqu’en octobre 2008, où la terre s'est remise à trembler. Du 1er janvier au 5 avril 2009, on a signalé 304 autres secousses.

Les sept accusés, membres du Comité national italien de prédiction et de prévention des risques majeurs, au sein duquel, ont analysé les séquences sismiques au cours d’une réunion d’une heure à L’Aquila le 31 mars 2009. Les procès-verbaux font état de la question posée à Enzo Boschi, président de l’Institut national de géophysique et de volcanologie, à savoir si ces signes précurseurs annonçaient un séisme comme celui de 1703. Sa réponse : « La probabilité est faible que se déclare à court terme un séisme aussi grave, mais celle-ci ne peut être totalement ignorée ».

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