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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Earthquake Disaster Recovery Efforts for Italy

August 26th, 2016 by Susan Smith

A little hilltop town in Italy was putting the crowning preparations on their annual pasta festival, when the earthquake struck this week.


Amatrice, Italy, renowned for its Amatriciana recipe (pork, pecorino cheese and tomato) is now gone. A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck in the early morning hours of August 24th. Now the death toll has reached over 275 people.

Why was this earthquake so devastating? The epicenter was right in Amatrice, home to 2,000 people. People in Rome, located 100 km to the northeast, felt the tremors. In 2009, an earthquake of similar magnitude hit nearby L’Aquila, killing over 300 people. Seven scientists were held responsible for not predicting it and sent to prison but eventually acquitted. At that time, regulations were put in place to bring houses over 100 years old up to seismic code. Despite those efforts, this week’s earthquake has taken a hefty toll on life and homes.

Before image

Before image – Amatrice, Italy 09 August 2010, 10:13 a.m. (UTC). Image collected by WorldView-2  (c) European Space Imaging

Italy after

After image – Amatrice, Italy, 24 August 2016, 10:21 a.m. (UTC). Image collected by WorldView-2 (c) European Space Imaging

On August 24, upon hearing about the earthquake early in the morning, Planetek Italia asked European Space Imaging’s satellite tasking operations team to collect the first satellite image of the damage at 10:21 am (UTC). European Space Imaging collected the first available imagery of the affected areas, that included the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto, which had been completely devastated. The high-resolution imagery was then made immediately available to the Italian Emergency Services. Satellite image companies tend to have the historical data on geographical locations so that when natural disasters strike, comparisons can be made aerially. These comparisons serve to help first responders recognize the changes and know where to administer first aid and rescue operations. If you compare the first high-resolution satellite image taken on the 9th August 2010, you can clearly see the effects of the earthquake in the town center of Amatrice, Italy.

The current image was made available to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and is available to anyone who would like to contribute to the detection and mapping of buildings that have been damaged or destroyed. If you wish to contribute:
•    Go to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) website
•    Download Worldview-2 satellite high resolution dataset of Amatrice collected the 24th August (zip 134 Mb – licence CC-BY-NC)

Aquila area of Central Italy after devastation - UK Daily Mail IREA-CNR

Aquila area of Central Italy after devastation – UK Daily Mail IREA-CNR

EERI has set up the Norcia Italy Earthquake Virtual Clearinghouse website as part of its Learning from Earthquakes Program and it will be a central location for data collected by colleagues, members, collaborators and contributors. EERI is also contacting members and colleagues in Italy for information and observations. For current and timely information about the earthquake, please also see the USGS event page, and the PAGER report.

Any members with information about earthquake impacts or who plan to conduct reconnaissance should contact Marjorie Greene, EERI interim LFE Program Manager.

The Sendai Framework, a global agreement to mitigate disasters when they strike in order to save more lives is the brainchild of UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). UN officials say that Italy has been doing “excellent” work carrying out search and rescue operations as well as responding to people’s needs after the earthquake plus aftershocks, rocked the country.

Weather Channel Italy Earthquake Aerials, August 2016

Italy UN/IT

Online Street View Satellite Images of Italian Earthquake

Interactive Shake Map for Italian Earthquake

Global Disaster Alert & Coordination System has information in the form of data, maps and satellite imagery on all disasters occurring across the globe.

Esri quakemap of Italy

Esri quakemap of Italy

Also on August 24th, a powerful earthquake of 6.8 magnitude shook Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), killing at least four people and damaging nearly a hundred ancient Buddhist pagodas in the former capital of Bagan, a major tourist site, officials said. While this earthquake registered higher on the Richter scale than the Italian one, the loss of life has not been as nearly as devastating as for that of the Italian earthquake. Myanmar was the location of earthquakes in April and May of this year, and is the site of frequent seismic activity.  Tremors were felt as far away as India.


The greatest damage was to historic structures. 185 brick pagodas in Bagan were damaged, according to the state newspaper. Bagan, also known as Pagan, has more than 2,200 structures including pagodas and temples constructed from the 10th to the 14th centuries. Many of these religious structures have been restored in recent years, while others remain in disrepair.

Tremors from the Myanmar quake were felt across India. - IBTimes

Tremors from the Myanmar quake were felt across India. – IBTimes










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Categories: data, disaster relief, Esri, geospatial, GIS, GPS, location intelligence, mapping, NOAA, public safety, satellite imagery, sensors

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