The Irpinia earthquake of 1980

Il Irpinia earthquake which occurred on 23th November 1980 devastated Campania and Basilicata. The earthquake affected a large area between the provinces of Salerno and Potenza. With a magnitude of 6.9, it is considered one of the most serious earthquakes in recent Italian history.



The Irpinia earthquake of November 23, 1980

A common Sunday that turned into tragedy: the evening of 23 November 1980 at 19:34 the earth shook in a large part of southern Italy. The main shock of the Irpinia earthquake was magnitude M 6.9. The earthquake struck a large area of ​​the southern Apennines with devastating effects especially in Irpinia and in the provinces of Avellino, Salerno and Potenza.

An earthquake that lasted for more than a minute that overwhelmed everything leaving an endless series of rubble and ruins where the inhabitants were shocked.


The Irpinia earthquake had a value on the Mercalli scale equal to the ninth degree. The event was not characterized by a single shock: within forty seconds of the first two more occurred, also with a magnitude of around 6.4 – 6.6. As explained by INGV, it is as if in less than a minute three earthquakes, all stronger than that of theEagle of 2009, had hit the area.


Damages and victims of the Irpinia earthquake

500 municipalities out of 700 affectednearly 3.000 deadmore than 8.000 wounded e 280.000 displaced. The toll of the earthquake was very serious. Among the most affected municipalities are those of Castelnuovo di Conza, Conza della Campania, Laviano, Lioni, Sant'Angelo dei Lombardi and Santomenna.



It took days for Italy to understand the enormity of the tragedy and send the necessary aid.

The chaos and the underestimation of the problem made it a huge disaster, leaving people buried alive by the rubble for days. "There wasn't the immediate assistance that there should have been" the President told TG2 two years later Sandro Pertini "Moans and cries of despair from those buried alive still rose from the rubble". The wound of Irpinia earthquake it remained open for years, deeply marking both the landscape and the population.

The post earthquake of 1980 and the reconstruction 

At first after the earthquake of 1980 relief was mainly entrusted to local authorities and volunteers. At the time, the Civil Protection was not a structured and stable institution; for this reason, direct state intervention took longer to implement. Nonetheless, the day after the earthquake, around 27 soldiers arrived on site. There was no shortage of international aid.

10 tents and 1231 railway carriages were set up to house the homeless, while around 16,5 thousand people returned to their homes as soon as the reports confirmed their structural integrity. Over the days, as winter approached, the homeless were moved to more suitable structures such as caravans, schools or other public buildings.



Over the following months and years funds were allocated for the reconstruction but, according to the CFTI portal, twenty years after the earthquake the reconstruction was not yet completely finished and a few thousand people continued to live in temporary accommodation.




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