The Marsica earthquake

Gli effetti su Avezzano del terremoto della Marsica del 13 gennaio 1915

On January 13, 1915, at 7:53 a.m., an earthquake of magnitude 7 struck central Italy. The earthquake, with its epicenter in the Fucino Plain, hit Abruzzo with effects above the 11th degree of the Mercalli Scale, and it hit a segment of the Apennine chain that had previously been considered to have insignificant seismicity. More than a thousand aftershocks followed the main event in the following months.

The region of Marsica, which had many built-up areas and a high population density, was razed to the ground. Over 30,000 people lost their lives in the disaster. In the town of Avezzano, one of the hardest-hit areas, there were less than 1,000 survivors out of a population of over 11,000. Huge losses were also reported in Collarmele, San Benedetto dei Marsi, Paterno, Ortucchio, Gioia dei Marsi, and all other locations in the Plain and Valle del Liri.

On the morning of January 14, twenty-four hours after the disaster, first responders from Rome and L'Aquila arrived in Avezzano. They were unable to reach other damaged towns for several days. The soldiers who were dispatched to the site had to work under extreme conditions, navigating through the rubble and snow to find survivors. The Red Cross established field hospitals, and those who were severely injured were transported to Rome for treatment.

Less than a month after the catastrophe, Italy under Cadorna had already forgotten the earthquake, projected toward the Great War.

Photo: Avezzano destroyed by Marsica earthquake on January 13, 1915 / Lansing Callan, public domain at