Seismic prevention: in Catania focus on safety between past and future 330 years after the 1693 earthquake

In Catania, 75% of schools are not safe: Civil protection and volunteers working with all the players in the supply chain to promote the active role of young people in the field of prevention

CATANIA – That of 1693 in Sicily was the strongest destructive event in Italian seismic history. The gravity was enormous in terms of territory size and number of victims. And as remembered by the verses engraved under the arch of the Porta Ferdinandea by Ittar and Battaglia – “Better than cinere surgo” – Catania was reborn from its ashes, but still today it remains a territory at very high risk. The city has been declared an earthquake zone with ministerial decree of 1981but the87.8% of buildings for residential use it is prior to the legislation (Source Istat 2011). In the last half century the Italian State has spent more than 3 billion a year for reconstruction activities after catastrophic events. And if these resources were invested to prevent disasters? The high risk of our country does not depend exclusively on the frequency and intensity of earthquakes: their impact is enhanced by the high vulnerability of homes, public buildings, industrial and production buildings. So seismic safety it is the only urgent countermeasure to safeguard citizens and real estate assets.

This was discussed this morning (January 11) in the Aula Magna of Engineering, during the Conference “1693-2023: 330 years since the Eastern Sicily earthquake – actions and proposals for seismic prevention and safety”. «With this initiative – said the rector of the University of Catania Francis Priolo – we want to “remember” but also make proposals. In our land the seismic risk is unfortunately very high, it is therefore essential that in a place like the University we continue to talk about this problem, putting forward proposals and projects to make the building heritage and the populations safe”. «The anti-seismic culture permeates all our teaching and research activities – declared the Dicar director Matthew Ignaccolo – starting with degree courses and ending with doctorates and research projects. Dicar continues to pay particular attention to these issues which, in addition to the static and structural aspects, also involve disciplines such as town planning, planning and transport».

The need for a major seismic risk prevention plan has emerged, the starting point for all the measures to be put in place. “The tax lever – he explained Rosario Fresta president of Ance Catania – has proven to be a fundamental tool in building regeneration and replacement processes, with medium and long-term time horizons. Alongside the ordinary incentives, which have been active for decades, the Earthquake bonus it has certainly marked the way for a more ambitious goal: to move from the single intervention of the housing unit to the scale of the building». “In Catania, 50% of the building stock is not safe, as are 75% of the schools – he said Mauro Scaccianoce, president of the Order of Engineers of Catania – in the last 40/50 years resources of over 200 billion have been spent on reconstruction. It is necessary to reverse this trend by committing funds to prevention. With the Superbonus, energy efficiency has been privileged, but it is also necessary to encourage safety by taking into account the different seismic classification of each building, placing it at the center of the real estate estimate, creating tax incentives and providing volumetric rewards for demolition and reconstruction. “Besides,” he added Agatino Spotopresident of the College of surveyors of Catania – an improvement and seismic adaptation would lead to an increase in the value of the properties and greater stability of the real estate market”.

“It is important to raise awareness among professionals so that they adopt the technical tools and the most correct methodologies to build responsibly – he explained Sebastian Carlo GrecoOrder of Architects PPC of Catania but above all we need to involve civil society and the media to root the culture of seismic prevention in the community».

Today’s conference must serve as a driving force for determining new approaches to seismic assessment, as he explained Salvatore Cocina, director general of Civil Protection of the Sicilian Region: «Sicily is a territory with high seismicity, therefore urgent and merit-based choices must be made, consolidating and carefully preserving the valuable heritage, demolishing the dilapidated buildings to reconfigure our cities in safety. On the anniversary of this catastrophe, our Department will promote – together with professionals and players in the supply chain – throughout the year, numerous moments of reflection, information and verification on seismic prevention: the only effective defense tool. Priority will be given to the evacuation drills of school buildings – as happened today – with the involvement of the entire teaching staff and above all of the students, in order to promote their active role in the field of prevention”.

The conference also saw the participation of: Annalisa Greco (Associate of Building Science, University of Catania); Mauro Corrao (president of the Regional Order of Geologists of Sicily); Raphael Azzaro (INGV Catania); Eleonora Bonanno (president of the PPC Catania Architects Foundation); Philip DiMauro (president of the Catania Order of Engineers Foundation); Gaetano Laudani(Chief Civil Engineer Catania). To follow the Scientific Seminar with the relationships of Paulo B. LorençoUniversity of Minho, Bassam IzzuddinImperial College of London ed Ivo CaliòUniversity of Catania.

Seismic prevention: in Catania focus on safety between past and future 330 years after the 1693 earthquake – Hashtag Sicilia