Storm over Papazachos quake study

Kathimerini’s publication yesterday of a confidential report by an eminent seismologist forecasting earthquakes of around 7 Richter in four southern and northern regions of Greece within the next two years provoked another round of recriminations between rival camps of seismologists. The government, which said that it has several such studies in its drawers, called once again for seismologists to come up with a united network for studying seismic activity. Athens’s Geodynamic Institute said Tuesday’s quake in the southern Aegean registered 5.8 on the Richter scale, while Thessaloniki University measured it at 6.1. «We have funded them to set up a unified network. If they do not do this we will stop funding them,» said Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou. She said the study was the same one that the government had been given nine months ago. «What it says about information and preparedness, that is what we are doing. But I do not understand the point of publicizing such reports,» she said. Emeritus Prof. Vassilis Papazachos of Thessaloniki University, who submitted his report to the National Scientific Committee for Evaluating Seismic Dangers last October, attacked those who made it public. «The leaking of information regarding estimates of the time and place of seismic activity is a very antisocial act carried out by irresponsible people lacking in conscience,» Papazachos said. «The publication of such information does not contribute to the correct solution of the problem of antiseismic protection, but on the contrary, creates additional social problems.» Kathimerini’s report said Papazachos’s midterm predictions, which had a margin of error of 18 months and 0.5 Richter, were aimed at increasing awareness in Greece’s northwest and northeast and the southern arc stretching from the Peloponnese to Turkey. Akis Tselentis, a seismologist at Patras University, charged that Papazachos was driven by the desire for more funding and had not submitted the report to the committee on seismic dangers. «If I were a Turkish hotelier I would be rubbing my hands with glee at this bombshell,» Tselentis said.