Friuli earthquake 1976
Date: 6 May 1976, h. 21
Magnitude: 6.4 (Maw)
Intensity at the epicentre: IX-X grade (MCS)
The earthquake was felt in almost all central and northern Italy, right down past Rome. The worst hit area was the middle valley of the Tagliamento River, but a huge number of towns suffered damage. A total of 119 municipalities in the provinces of Udine and Pordenone were damaged to some extent or another. Despite the well/known high seismicity of the region and in particular of the stretch between the lowland and the mountains, most of the municipalities that suffered the most damage, like for example Buia, Gemona and Osoppo, were not classified as seismic and were not therefore subject to specific building legislation.
Damage to buildings was enormous and even the impact on the economy was considerable: around 15,000 workers lost their jobs due to factories being either destroyed or damaged.
In the hours following the violent tremor, the large numbers of military in Friuli fortunately enabled sufficiently rapid efficient relief operations, facilitating removal of rubble, the setting up of temporary accommodation and field kitchens, reactivation of services, thus reducing disruption for those hit by the earthquake. The earthquake in 1976 in Friuli had big impact on public opinion, it was also the first earthquake where live television reports brought images of pain and destruction into all the homes in Italy.
The tremor on 6 May was followed by a huge number of aftershocks, some of which were very violent; in particular the one on 15 September, at 10:20 am, with a magnitude of 5.9 (Maw), which reached grade VIII-IX on the MCS and killed 12 people, destroyed more buildings and worsened the damage already caused by the earthquake on 6 May to buildings that had not yet been repaired.