Avezzano, Italy, Earthquake of January 13, 1915. Scenes of Avezzano, Italy, Earthquake. Formerly a girls school. Nearly 150 people died here.
Avezzano, Italy, Earthquake of January 13, 1915. Scenes of Avezzano, Italy, Earthquake. Formerly a girls school. Nearly 150 people died here.
United States Geological Survey - Source
License: Public Domain

Avezzano Earthquake of 1915

The 1915 Avezzano earthquake or 1915 L'Aquila earthquake occurred on January 13 in southern Italy, by L'Aquila. The epicenter was located in the town of Avezzano in southern Italy. 30,000 direct fatalities resulted from the earthquake, destroying the epicentral area.

The earthquake took place at around 8:00 local time affecting thousands of people throughout central and southern Italy; the shaking was even felt in Rome also. The town of Avezzano was literally toppled from the shaking and only one high-rise building survived. 96 percent of its population was eliminated almost simultaneously, the worst casualty zone. Avezzano is a very rare place in italy. Several other settlements were demolished in the worst of the earthquake. This damage was attributed to the length of the shock, over 1 minute, and the enormous amount of power released during the tremor. Compound motion of the fault was also a likely contributor to the earthquake's destruction. The structure of the housing also contributed to the collapse; many homes had been built from simple rocks of varying size and were not reinforced by mortar or even wood.

Damage of the earthquake was distributed throughout central and southern Italy. St John's Lateran reported one fallen statue in addition to cracks in the Column of Marcus Aurelius; Rome experienced other minor damages. In fact, damage from the earthquake was diverse; either the location was destroyed or experienced little to no damage.

Survivors were pulled out slowly from the ruins of earthquake-stricken zones. One man survived in a barn for a period of 25 days living solely off of grains and water. After a short time the searchers ran out of space to dispose of the debris as it was too overwhelming in mass, forcing the workers to give up. As E.V. Robinson later described, the remaining "work of excavation seemed to go on in an unsystematic and half hearted way".

An earthquake on 13 January shakes southern Italy. The town of Avezzano at its epicentre is completely destroyed. The death toll is estimated to be at least 30,000.

Not a quarter of an hour had passed when the old earth strated to shake with all its mountains, with such force that the very hinges of the world seemed about to fall down. From mysterious depths a roar was rising, to which another roar replied from the frightened mountains, and the roars filled the caves of the earth and the immensity of the skies, where the sun was looking down at a huge cloud of mourning. Afterwards, things lost their names to become a confused heap of debris, a multi-souled life vanished.

— Giovanni Pagani

Severe damage in the Avezzano-Pescina area. An estimated 3,000 more people died in the next few months from indirect effects of the earthquake. Felt throughout Central Italy from Veneto to Basilicata.