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. palintwit

    Sarah Palin believes that the Collisseum was a place where the Romans kept their pet dinosaurs.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoUNTry first

      She also believes the Circus Maximus was the Nissan version of Ringling Brothers.

      May 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuckmartel

      very good chance you are right. no kidding.

      May 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gop

      you must be very worried about Sarah Palin that you have to keep writing ignorant things about her. I bet money you have never even been to Rome you twit and if not for this story you never see what the Collisseum looks like. now pull your head out of Obamas crack and get a clue you retard.

      May 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Really? You read the whole story and still misspell "Colosseum"? You are definitely showing how much smarter you are than everyone.

      May 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Sarah Palin also believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that early man walked with the dinosaurs. She believes that early man rode dinosaurs to church every Sunday.

      May 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SoCalGuy

    The day isn't over yet.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      You really are a glass half full kind of guy, aren't you SoCal. Does that come from living along the eastern edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire?

      May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. marco


    A 5.3-magnitude earthquake strikes southeastern Spain, 220 miles south of the capital Madrid.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cremulous

    Dave why don't you post your email so we can keep in touch??

    May 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Guest

    Second one in. Yeah!

    May 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. marco

    Two earthquakes shake Lorca, leaving at least seven dead
    The tremors also caused extensive damage in the town of Murcia materials .- The government mobilizes the Military Emergency Unit
    JAVIER RUIZ / TONE CALLEJA | Murcia / Madrid 11/05/2011
    el PAIS

    May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fredo

    Why, when it states "(required, but will not be displayed) , do I receive comment reply's to my personal e-mail address????????????

    May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew


    May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Knucklehead

    And we are the most intelligent beast on the planet.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jbill

    Well there was a 5.3mag earthquake in Spain today 5/11/11. That is not too far

    May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shooter mcgavin

    I thought Europeans were enlightened and to be admired for their smug superiority.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Erin

    @ Dave
    There is no god. But religious nuts like you like to scare little boys and get down with them Michael Jackson style, don't you.
    Religion is a MYTH created by man and is the truly the worlds oldest scam. Televangelist are a pack of pedophiles that prey on people with weak minds, like you Dave. Go spread your message of stupidity elsewhere loser.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Partially

      I agree, partially. Correction, there is a God. The rest of what you said is correct.

      May 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • fimeilleur

      @ Partially,

      You seem certain... can you provide proof of the existance of your God? I mean, real tangible, physical proof? Normally, I'd just take your word for it, but I've been lied to before about Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Big Foot, Unicorns, Elves, Munchkins, and Tom Cruise... It just hurts so bad to have all these "real" persona that I "truely, deaply" believed in, turn out to be fake.

      May 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Seth Myers

    The story was about ROME having the earthquake today, not all of the other areas aroung the world. Madrid? Really? Did the dude predict Madrid? No. Really? Aren't there earthquakes happening on any given day? So I could predict one somewhere in the world tomorrow and I'd be correct, right? Really?

    May 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Seth Myers

    Sarah palin? Really?

    May 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. marco

    Astronomer and seismologist Bendandi WRONG FOR VERY LITTLE! THE PROPHET IS VERY GOOD! LOL, BUT SERIOUS!

    May 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
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