Scientists who research natural hazards walk a precarious line when it comes to predicting disasters. They’re often criticized for over-hyping the situation and disrupting residents’ lives. But if they fail to predict a catastrophic event, they’re accused of failing to give the public adequate warning. It’s a classic case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
“Damned if you don’t” is the situation that seven of Italy’s top seismologists now find themselves in — the scientists face manslaughter charges for failing to predict the April 2009 earthquake that struck the town of L’Aquila in central Italy.