'Quake Prophecy' Panics Rome

Thousands flee city amid rumors of major quake today
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2011 2:40 AM CDT
Updated May 11, 2011 6:00 AM CDT
Rome Earthquake 'Prophecy' Sparks Panic
Many Romans fear that the Colosseum will crumble today.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Thousands of Romans unsettled by rumors of an impending earthquake have decided that today is a good day to get out of Rome. A rumor that has spread widely online holds that seismologist Raffaele Bendandi—who died in 1979—predicted that a devastating earthquake would hit Rome on May 11, 2011, the BBC reports. Officials deny that Bendandi made any such prediction but attendance at schools and workplaces is expected to be down by a fifth.

"I don't know if I really believe it but if you look at the Internet you see everything and the opposite of everything, and it ends up making you nervous," a chef planning to take today off and head for the hills tells Reuters. Bendandi, who believed that earthquakes were the result of the combined movements of the planets, the moon, and the sun, was knighted by Benito Mussolini in 1927 after he accurately predicted two major quakes. The AP notes that 22 quakes have hit Italy so far today, but still no devastating temblor. Click to read more. (More Rome stories.)

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