This has been my understanding based on the news. I have certainly seen in parts of the world that construction or infrastructure is not necessarily built to code, or that even if so, the code may fail to address environmental conditions, e.g., seismic activity, flooding or high winds. Resilient housing/buildings would certainly be more costly, and either less affordable and/or less profitable.2) there are no 'natural catastrophes', only 'natural events'. We call them catastrophes when people get injured or killed in them. In an earthquake, except for super-violent ones where huge cracks open in the ground engulfing people and everything, most injuries and deaths occur inside buildings that are not properly designed to withstand the event or, outdoors, near buildings that collapse or shed heavy debris. This earthquake happened very late at night, almost morning in fact, so not many people were outdoors, and guess what, many of the people who died were actually asleep in recent buildings (e.g. the students' accommodation facility) that had been cheaply put together, without respecting the anti-seismic regulations. Why? Because the sole obtuse focus of certain 'people' there is to make money out of everything, regardless of the consequences and in spite of even the most elementary principles of common sense and humanity. I don't recall if it was proven in court, yet, but chances are bribes were exchanged with those who issued the permits, and there you go, just go ahead and build any old shed in the most seismic land in Europe, and let people die in it. And it gets even more sinister. Just shortly after the event, two politicians/administrators were caught (by phone tapping) literally chuckling on what had happened as they discussed the money they would make in the reconstruction! I mean, can it get any more sordid than that? It's the image of a society with no values, who doesn't even care about other people's lives, as long as they can buy a more expensive car, have a holiday villa, or who knows what else it is they think makes them happy. And while they more often than not escape punishment from justice, they don't always escape their own conscience. In a previous case of a primary school that collapsed during another earthquake, killing many children and teachers (San Giuliano di Puglia), one person who had been involved in the construction of the school committed suicide after the event. If I'm not mistaken, he had even lost a relative of his own in it.
We cannot not know what was in their minds, or what the expectation was.This is the context (I think) you need to consider when you see news like this.
I don't know if these scientists did what they did in good faith or not, so it may even be appropriate to put them through trial. But 'science' itself should never be under trial. Scientists can advise and support decision-makers to the best of their knowledge and ability, but it's the local authorities and politicians that ultimately have the responsibility to make decisions and manage their territory, and bad decision-making or bad management of the territory are THE real causes of catastrophes like this, certainly not nature taking its course or science trying to read and anticipate nature's behaviour. Politics has too long been shielded from responsibility in that country, and when the 'real' culprits are prosecuted it won't be a minute too soon.
Thank you for the thoughtful post and synopsis of the story.Therefore, while I empathise with the people who just want to see 'someone' finally taking responsibility and paying the price for their losses, I would also advise them not to let themselves be manipulated into blaming 'science' as the source of their grief.