Scientist gagged over quake warning 2 hours 52 mins ago Print Story An Italian scientist was reported to authorities for spreading panic after he warned a major quake would strike L'Aquila, it has emerged. Weeks before disaster struck the city and killed more than 90 people, seismologist Giacchino Giuliani had warned of an impending disaster - but his forecast was dismissed by the government which said it had no scientific foundation. Tremors were first felt in the region in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, creating mounting alarm in the medieval city. A month ago, vans with loudspeakers drove around the town telling locals to evacuate their houses after Mr Giuliani, from the National Institute of Astrophysics, predicted a large quake was on the way. However, this reportedly infuriated the local mayor. Mr Giuliani, who based his forecast on concentrations of radon gas around seismically active areas, was reported to police for "spreading alarm". He was also forced to remove his findings from the web. Earlier, a defensive Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gave a news conference on the quake and dodged questions about the whether his government had properly safeguarded the population in light of Mr Giuliani's warning. Mr Berlusconi said now was the time to concentrate on relief efforts and "we can discuss afterwards about the predictability of earthquakes". On March 31, Italy's Civil Protection agency held a meeting in L'Aquila of the Major Risks Committee to reassure the townspeople. A statement issued on the eve of the meeting said: "The tremors being felt by the population are part of a typical sequence ... (which is) absolutely normal in a seismic area like the one around L'Aquila." It added that the agency saw no reason for alarm but was nonetheless effecting "continuous monitoring and attention".