Molise earthquake 2002


Date: 31 October 2002, h.11,32
Magnitude: 5.8 (Maw)
Intensity at the epicentre: VII-VIII grade (MCS)
Victims: 30

Between 31 October and 2 November 2002 Molise and part of Puglia were struck by various earthquake tremors. The epicentre was between Santa Croce di Magliano, San Giuliano di Puglia and Larino in the province of Campobasso. This area had until this moment been considered a low seismic risk zone.

The most violent tremor, of magnitude 5.8 (Maw), was recorded 11.32 on 31 October in the southern part of Molise, north-east of the province of Campobasso, between Monti Frentani and the Fortore valley. It lasted 60 seconds and was felt quite distinctly through Molise, in the area of Foggia and in the province of Chieti. It was felt as far away as the Marche, Bari, Brindisi, Rome, Potenza, Naples and Salerno, and Taranto.

The event caused 30 deaths, including 27 children, approximately 100 injured and 2,295 ended up homeless in the province of Campobasso alone. Even in the province of Foggia there were a great many left homeless and a dozen or so municipalities reported serious damage to historical buildings and homes.

In San Giuliano di Puglia, the strong shaking caused the roof to collapse on the “Francesco Jovine” school building, which housed the nursery, primary and middle schools. 57 children, 8 teachers and 2 caretakers were trapped under the rubble. Firemen, Civil Protection volunteers and locals continued digging all day. People were still being pulled out from the ruins in the evening. The following morning the Firemen stopped hearing any voices from under the rubble. 27 children and a teacher lost their lives when the “Francesco Jovine” school collapsed.

Today Jovine school has been rebuilt using innovative technique and, above all, ensuring the building is seismic proof. The new school features so-called seismic insulation, in other words a technique that manages to guarantee almost total protection even in the case of very violent earthquakes. This technique has already been tested in Japan and China during violent earthquakes and the buildings protected with this insulation were hardly damaged at all despite being close to the epicentre.