Raffaele Bendandi, who claimed to have forecast numerous earthquakes and, has according to internet rumors, predicted a “big one” to strike Rome on tomorrow, May 11.
Bendandi, who died in 1979 aged 86, believed earthquakes were the result of the combined movements of the planets, the moon and the sun and were perfectly predictable.
Through his studies he has been able to predict some earthquakes in Italy:
– Marsica earthquake of 13 January 1915
– Marche earthquake of January 2, 1924
– Earthquake in Friuli, 6 May 1976.
In his 1923 forecast of the quake to hit the central Adriatic region of the Marches on January 2 the following year, he was wrong by two days but Italy’s main newspaper Corriere della Sera still ran a front page article on “The man who forecasts earthquakes.”
Bendandi’s fame grew and in 1927 he was awarded a knighthood by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. During his long career his theories were studied by several prominent foreign astronomers.
Thousands of Romans are now expecting to leave Rome tomorrow in fear of being caught in a devastating earthquake.
National television network RAI has run programs aimed at calming rising panic among Romans. The civil protection agency has issued statements reiterating the official scientific view that earthquakes can’t be predicted.
Yet still some Romans feel that it is better to be safe than sorry.
“I’m going to tell the boss I’ve got a medical appointment and take the day off,” barman Fabio Mengarelli told Reuters. “If I have to die I want to die with my wife and kids, and masses of people will do the same as me.”
Chef Tania Cotorobai also said she would be taking a day off in the country. “I don’t know if I really believe it but if you look at the internet you see everything and the opposite of everything, and it end up making you nervous,” she said.
The current panic appears to be due more to fear-mongering in the age of internet than to Bendandi himself.
Paola Lagorio, the president of an association dedicated to Bendandi and which preserves all his manuscripts, says they make no reference to any earthquake around Rome in 2011.