The day Rome didn’t disappear
An aerial view of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
May 11th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

The day Rome didn’t disappear

Romans let out a sigh of relief Wednesday morning.

Everything was still in place: buildings, famous ancient ruins, schools and homes.

In recent months, concerns of a possible earthquake that was going to destroy the "Eternal City" spread on the Web. It all started with the misinterpretation of the theory of Raffaele Bendandi, a seismologist who died in 1979 who claimed a major quake would take place on May 11, 2011. After the Japanese earthquake, concern turned to anxiety.

And with the best view of the planets clustering before sunrise Wednesday, it caused further panic.

In some areas of the city, nearly 50% of the shops where closed. On doors are quick handwritten notes: ‘Closed for inventory."

While several minor quakes rattled the country prone to temblors, none came like the one in the purported claim. Still, some residents fled, just in case.

Daniela D’Amely, a graphic designer mother of a 12-year-old, told CNN her daughter "begged" her to escape from Rome today. Eventually, her daughter did go to school, but many other kids were absent.

According to the police, traffic was more intense than usual on roads leading out of Rome.

Bendandi, a self-made scientist from a village in central Italy, with some official recognition during his life, believed that the alignment of the planets could change the gravitational force of the Earth, causing earthquakes.

But experts at the National Geophysical and Volcanology Institute stressed there was nothing to be worried about.

‘The force from aligned planets is irrelevant compared to the tectonic forces of the Earth's plates whose movements create real earthquakes," said seismologist Lucia Margheriti. "None of the big earthquakes of the last century happened with particular planets' alignment."

The Institute is even holding an event to explain and address the worries - and over 1,000 visitors where registered since the early hours of the morning.

"When we have conferences to inform people on earthquakes prevention measures, nobody comes," Margheriti said. "Public reacts to strong emotions like fear, and for us today is a good occasion to reach people that are not usually interested in geology."

A woman asked them if today she could have a ultrasound medical test or if it was better to move the appointment. Of course the answer was to do the ultrasound today.

Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, also assured Romans that nothing as a devastating earthquake would happen today.

"It’s not a scientific forecast," ANSA news agency reported him saying this morning. ‘We have to remain calm."

"Bendandi’s theory have no scientific evidence," said Marco Loppi, a geophysicist who now earns his living selling mobile phones.

"In Italy we register dozens of minor earthquakes every day. The real problem is that there is very little scientific information and people that search the net fall easily in this kind of stupid predictions."

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Filed under: Italy
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. daniela

    Thank goodness Rome is still there. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever traveled to.

    May 12, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jesse Hyde

    this did not happen, what next, the world 'going to end" in 2012?.

    May 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andreas Moser

    I wish you would stop to run non-news.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
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