The normal-faulting earthquake of 6 April 2009 in the Abruzzo Region of central Italy caused heavy losses of life and substantial damage to centuries-old buildings of significant cultural importance and to modern reinforced-concrete-framed buildings with hollow masonry infill walls. Although structural deficiencies were significant and widespread, the study of the characteristics of strong motion data from the heavily affected area indicated that the short duration of strong shaking may have spared many more damaged buildings from collapsing. It is recognized that, with this caveat of short-duration shaking, the infill walls may have played a very important role in preventing further deterioration or collapse of many buildings. It is concluded that better new or retrofit construction practices that include reinforced-concrete shear walls may prove helpful in reducing risks in such seismic areas of Italy, other Mediterranean countries, and even in United States, where there are large inventories of deficient structures.

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