Want to visit Rome? Too late! Apparently, it will be destroyed by a massive earthquake today!

St. Peter's - Panoramio picture by Fad64 - http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9208974

Today, Wednesday, Rome (including the Vatican) will be razed to the ground by an earthquake that will shatter more than 2,000 years’ worth of monumental architecture including the Colosseum, the Pantheon and St Peter’s.

That, at least, is the fear of hundreds of thousands of Romans, spooked by the reputed forecast of a self-taught seismologist Raffaele Bendandi, also called the "earthquake prophet",  who died more than 30 years ago.

The daily La Repubblica reported that applications from the capital’s public employees for a day off – and, presumably, out – were 18% higher than for the same day in 2011.

Italy lovers and people of Rome :  today will not be different than tomorrow or the day after tomorrow BUT always be Earthquake Prepared and read what follows to convince yourselves of the contrary.

Welcome back to the real world of Earthquake-Report.com !

For Rome, we can use the open hazards percentages of probability.
There is a 0.02% chance that a damaging earthquake (magnitude 5 or higher) will happen within 50 kilometers of Rome, Italy in the next 1 day.
There is a 0.12% chance that a damaging earthquake (magnitude 5 or higher) will happen within 50 kilometers of Rome, Italy in the next 1 Week.
There is a 0.52% chance that a damaging earthquake (magnitude 5 or higher) will happen within 50 kilometers of Rome, Italy in the next 1 Month.
There is a 6.20% chance that a damaging earthquake (magnitude 5 or higher) will happen within 50 kilometers of Rome, Italy in the next 1 Year.

These numbers are NOT only valid today, but also tomorrow, next month and the next year.

This does not mean that the earthquakes will be necessarily be damaging in Rome.
As you can see, this means that there is a 1 in 10,000 chance that there will be a felt earthquake in Rome today. We like those odds! In fact, Rome is one of the safer places (probability-wise) to be in today!

Earthquake-Report.com's comment on the rumors :

Following earthquakes on a daily basis, this story is certainly not the only one in the world.
In a matter of 2 weeks we noticed 2 major rumors making people crazy in Almaty, Kazakhstan and in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Kazakhstan
In Almaty, Kazakhstan, a moderate 5.3 earthquake with an epicenter 80 km from the Almaty (1,200,000 inhabitants) triggered the rumor that this was a foreshock of a massive destructive earthquake later that night.
The rumor was so strong that many thousands fled Almaty to spend the night in the countryside or stayed in the streets for many hours.  Authorities did not react at first because giving in to rumors is a bad precedent.
Earthquake-Report.com was invaded but Kazakh people searching for clues on what would happen.
We had to bring a bold statement that the rumor was False.  Click here to read this article.
Many hours later the Kazakh authorities had to give in to swelling rumors and published a statement that the rumor was (probably) false (no signs that a massive earthquake would strike).

Indonesia
People living in coastal villages @ the greater Kendari, South-East Sulawesi, Indonesia area did  auto-evacuate when a damaging 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the area. After 2 days and looking at the pattern of aftershocks, the seismologists and the government urged the people to return to their villages.  The evacuees REFUSED to return to their houses as the RUMOR went around that a major tsunami would arrive and destroy the coastal villages.  It took the authorities days and days before the people believed them.

Taiwan
A self-proclaimed Taiwanese “prophet” on Tuesday started the countdown for what he said would be a huge earthquake as workers moved tons of bottled water and other supplies to makeshift shelters. “The final countdown has started,” Wang Chao-hung, better known to his followers and the public as “Teacher Wang“, said in the central Taiwanese town of Puli, home to about 80 000 people.

Italy - Sicily
While  writing this article, a Bulgarian man has sent us a prediction with the following data : The next earthquake in Italy, Sicily - Date: May 28 2011 - Time: 4h (GMT ) - Location: Sicily - Magnitude: M5.3 - Error margin : 300 km, 20h.
Please classify also this prediction into the Crazy story series archive.

In all these cases a lot of people have a stronger believe in rumors than in expert seismologists.
To blame is also the popular press who is willing to publish crazy stories like this. After the first article, people start to forward the story to each other and what at the beginning was meant as a joke gets a more and more serious degree of relevance.

It might be a good idea to teach the basics of earthquake triggering in schools so that people will act more normally.
Those people starting off these stories should have to follow a mandatory 6-months course in plate tectonics.
Simple earthquake theory and the teaching and publishing of the real probability of such an earthquake in the media should reassure people!
Of course, an earthquake can happen at any time, but knowing the probability should reassure people.

This article was partly based on an article in The Guardian, which we included yesterday in our Earthquake Related News . Click here to read it.