Worst Natural Disasters in Italy
By: Liz Flynn
Due to its location and geography, Italy has experienced many natural disasters. Some of these have had catastrophic results, including high fatalities. Here are some of the worst natural disasters that have hit Italy.
White Friday was the name given to the day when one of the worst avalanches in Italian history occurred. This happened in 1916 during the Italian Front of World War I. The avalanche hit Austrian barracks and killed 270 soldiers. The Winter of Terror took place in the winter months spanning 1950 and 1951. A shocking 649 avalanches took place in these months and the fatality count reached 256 people. The most recent avalanche was the Rigopiano Avalanche on 18th January 2017. 29 people were killed with only 11 survivors pulled from the remains of a destroyed mountainside hotel.
In terms of fatalities, the earthquake that occurred on 28th December 1908 in the Strait of Messina is one of the worst in Italian history. The official death toll is unknown but is estimated at between 75,000 and 200,000. On 13th January 2013, an earthquake in L’Aquila killed between 29,978 and 32,610 people.
Two of the worst floods in Italian history both took place on 4th November 1966. Floods in Venice caused six million dollars’ worth of damage when the waters reached an unprecedented 194 centimeters. On the same day in Florence, the River Arno burst its banks and killed 101 people and causing significant damage to historical structures and famous works of art.
Italy has also suffered many catastrophic landslides. One such event took place on the Amalfi Coast on 26th March 1924. Following 18 hours of heavy rain, several landslides occurred in the area resulting in the death of approximately 100 people.
Tsunamis are another form of natural disaster that have affected Italy, although these are a rare occurrence in comparison to other types of natural disaster. Since the earliest records in 963 AD, a total of 10 tsunamis have hit Italy with an estimated death toll of 1,822 people. The worst happened on 28th December 1908. Vast areas were destroyed and 294 people were killed when the 13-meter-high tsunami hit Italy.
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