On 6 April 2009 at 3:32 local time, a strong earthquake (Mw 6.3) struck central Italy near L'Aquila, the capital of the Abruzzo region, causing the death of more than 300 people and the destruction of about 20,000 buildings.
This mainshock was preceded by a seismic swarm giving rise to a public debate regarding the possibility to forecast this earthquake that was followed by thousands of aftershocks in the following months. The two strongest aftershocks that occurred on April 7 (Mw 5.6) and April 9 (Mw 5.4) caused further damages to regional cultural sites already heavily disrupted by the mainshock.
On the evening of 22 May 2017, at the end of the concert by the American star Ariana Grande, a rucksack bomb was detonated in the foyer of the Manchester Arena as fans were leaving. The bomb detonation killed 22 people, mainly young girls, and injured more than a hundred others. The British Prime Minister referred to the Manchester terrorist attack as the worst ever in the north of England. The attack appeared intensively on social media allowing the prompt mobilisation of emergency services, but the dissemination of images and videos caused distress to the families of the victims.
On 7 May 2020, the LG Polymers chemical plant in the village of Venkatapuram, India, was reopened after the national lockdown implemented for the COVID-19 pandemic. The plant stored 2,000 metric tons of styrene in tanks. Between 2:30-3:00 a.m., during a maintenance activity on a computer glitch, the resulting gas from the vaporisation of the styrene leaked from the plant and spread to nearby villages over a radius of 3 km. The accident resulted in the death of 12 people and the hospital treatment of 585 residents following widespread breathing difficulties, nausea, skin rashes and sensations of burning eyes.
On 23 September 2018, Hurricane Leslie formed and moved eastwards across the Atlantic, making landfall in Portugal on 13 October and then moving towards France. The remnants of the large and erratic tropical cyclone fed a quasi-stationary cold front over southwestern France, generating severe thunderstorms and leading to flash flooding during the night of 14-15 October in the Aude region. Rivers and streams broke their banks, flooding the small, narrow streets of the town of Villegailhenc with muddy water engulfing houses, sweeping away cars and killing 14 people. Emergency services arrival was hampered by inaccessible roads and the collapse of a bridge.
On 11 March 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, the most powerful earthquake (Mw 9.1) ever recorded in the country shook Japan for six minutes. The epicentre was in the Pacific Ocean, 130 km east of the city of Sendai and the focus was 30 km below the ocean floor. As a result, a tsunami composed of 10 waves, 1 km apart and in some places 15 m high was generated. Millions of people lost their homes and livelihoods, 16,000 people died, 6,000 were injured, 3,000 are still missing and the Fukushima nuclear power plant was severely damaged by this disaster.
On 23 May 2019, a wildland fire was almost destroying the small village of MevoModiim, Israel, nestled into the Ben Shemen forest east of Tel Aviv. The rash of fires came only a day after authorities tried to clamp down on traditional bonfires from the Lag B’Omer holiday, citing the hot, dry conditions. Some officials said embers from improperly doused fires contributed to the breakout. Almost 80% of the homes were damaged by the fire, but fortunately, there were no injuries or deaths thanks to the operation of the firefighters who ordered rapid and early evacuation of the population.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC (BENCHMARK CASE)
On 31 December 2019, the first case of COVID-19 was officially identified in Wuhan, China, and by August 2020, more than 22.4 million cases of COVID-19 were reported in more than 188 countries and territories, with more than 788,000 deaths. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of a pandemic. This unprecedented event caused global social and economic upheaval, xenophobia, and discrimination due to disinformation about the virus circulating through social and mass media. The temporary closure of industries had positive effects, i.e., it led to a decrease in emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.