An earthquake predicted to hit Rome on May 11 has caused people to flee the city to avoid the catastrophe, according to a report by the BBC.
The prediction is said to have been made by late seismologist Raffaele Bendandi (he died in 1979), though experts dispute its existence. That said, the BBC said “[t]here are reports of an 18% increase in the number of city employees planning to stay away from work,” though Italian officials have been calling for calm.
The rumor of Bendandi’s prediction has been floating around for months, though the organization honoring him, the Osservatorio Geofisico Comunale:
said they had no record of the much-discussed prediction and have dismissed it as an urban myth. ‘I can say with absolute certainty that in the papers of Raffaele Bendandi there is no provision for an earthquake in Rome on the 11 May 2011,’ Paola Lagorio [president of the foundation].”
In the meantime, Italian officials have been fielding phone calls from citizens concerned about the predicted earthquake and damage, though they’ve downplayed the danger.