November 23, 1980, the strong earthquake of Irpinia leaves almost three thousand dead in Italy

The destruction caused by the earthquake in Teora (photo: wikimedia)

The November 23, 198042 years ago, a 6.9 magnitude Richter earthquake struck the Italian regions of Campania and Basilicatain southern Italy, causing the death of 2,914 people and nearly 9,000 wounded. 280,000 citizens were left homeless. The earthquake, remembered as the “Irpinia Earthquake” because the geographical area of ​​Irpinia was the most affected, was one of the strongest seismic events occurred in Italy during the 20th centuryand one of the most serious in terms of victims, along with the earthquake in Messina and Reggio Calabria (1908), Calabria (1905), Avezzano (1915), Friuli (1975). In the same Irpinia another earthquake had occurred in 1930, which had left 1,400 dead.

The three most affected provinces were those of Avellino, Salerno and Potenza. In some areas there was a intensity of degree X on the Mercalli seismological scale (total destruction).

The tremor was also very strong in Naples, where there were collapses of old houses and victims. The situation of economic backwardness in southern Italy was evident in the days following the earthquake: the absence of infrastructure, together with thein the absence of a Civil Protection system, made many areas isolated and aid will arrive very late. The true entity of the disaster was known only three days later. The cover of the Naples newspaper, “Il Mattino”, which titled “Fate Presto!” has remained in the memory of Italians. (Hurry up!) Faced with the evident slowness of the relief.

The delay in aid and the indignation of the President of the Republic Sandro Pertini

The long delay in aid was strongly criticized by the then President of the Republic, Sandro Pertini, who said on television: “the guilty will pay” and invited the Italians to solidarity. Thousands of volunteers came from every region of Italy to help the victims of the earthquake.

On this occasion it was also possible to see how in southern Italy the state of the buildings was terrible, with many homes in critical condition, weakened by previous earthquakes or poorly built. It can be said that the disaster of 1980 helped Italy begin to commit itself to the seismic prevention Y in the constitution of a civil protection service, that saw the light ten years later (precisely in 1992), and is today one of the most organized in the world and very present in the territory.

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Italian journalist, I work and collaborate for newspapers in Italy and Spain. Chief editor of, Italian portal of the Spanish group Meteored. Founder and chief editor of El Itagnól.


November 23, 1980, the strong earthquake of Irpinia leaves almost three thousand dead in Italy – El Itañol