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Maximum Time-to-Rescue After the 1908 Messina-Reggio Calabria Earthquake was 20 Days: Hints for Disaster Planning?

  • Natale Gaspare De Santo (a1), Carmela Bisaccia (a2) and Luca Salvatore De Santo (a3) (a4)



Maximum time-to-rescue has been studied accurately for many earthquakes in the years 1985-2004. No study is available for historical quakes.


This study aimed to evaluate long-term survivors (from the fifth day after the quake) of the Messina-Reggio Calabria earthquake (1908; Italy), which is considered, historically, to be the worst seismic event in Europe.


Accurate readings of 11 national newspapers from the fifth day after the quake looking for rescued persons and transferring, to an ad hoc form, all data relating to each rescued person.


The maximum time-to rescue was 20 days. There were 225 survivors, among them 51 children (22.6 %). For 23 out 225 rescued persons, there was evidence of availability of foods and drinkable fluids while under the rubble.


The maximum time-to-rescue under the debris following this historical earthquake far exceeds that of all other quakes that occurred in the years 1985-2004. The long survival under debris was probably due to the lack of an order to stop search and rescue. Recent strategies reducing the time for search and rescue carry the risk of missing survivors.

De Santo NG , Bisaccia C , De Santo LS . Maximum Time-to-Rescue After the 1908 Messina-Reggio Calabria Earthquake was 20 Days: Hints for Disaster Planning? Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(3):249252.


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Luca Salvatore De Santo, MD, FESC Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences University of Foggia Viale Luigi Pinto 1, 71122 Foggia, Italy E-mail:


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Conflicts of interest: none



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Maximum Time-to-Rescue After the 1908 Messina-Reggio Calabria Earthquake was 20 Days: Hints for Disaster Planning?

  • Natale Gaspare De Santo (a1), Carmela Bisaccia (a2) and Luca Salvatore De Santo (a3) (a4)


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