According to a self proclaimed earthquake predictor, the earthquake in Italy is the first catastrophe among many that could happen.
Frank Hoogerbeets says he uses planetary alignments to work out when the seismic activity, which causes earthquakes on Earth, will increase.
Earlier this month Express.co.uk reported how Mr Hoogerbeets had released a video warning that there was likely to be a series of strong quakes across the planet from August 20 to September 4, saying: “Very large seismic movement expected – have an earthquake plan ready.”
The 6.2 magnitude quake hit the Umbrian town of Norcia at 3.30am yesterday morning and was felt hardest in Accumoli and Amatrice – a small mountain town that “isn’t there anymore” according to its mayor.
Mountain towns were destroyed and at least 240 people have been confirmed dead following the earthquake, and scores more are feared missing.
Hours later about four people died and temples were ruined after a 6.8 magnitude quake in Myanmar, south east Asia.
Today Mr Hoogerbeets claimed his prediction was being borne out, due to these quakes and a number of major tremors leading up to it, but warned worse was likely to come.
He told Express.co.uk: “This is only the beginning for the remaining days of August.”
He also posted on Facebook: “Magnitude 6.2 central Italy, on the side of the moon, with numerous aftershocks.”
Hours before the Italian quake, he had posted a renewed warning on Facebook, saying: “We have three near alignments of planets today, two of which (are) with Earth.
“Watch the next three days for possible larger seismic movement, especially when the Moon lines up with the Mars-Saturn resonance on the 25th.”
Mr Hoogerbeets claims to have predicted several major tremors in the past two years, including the huge quake which claimed more than 8,000 lives in Nepal last year.
He says he believes a huge quake of magnitude 8 or 9 is on its way – and it could hit the west coast of the USA.
On August 21 he posted: “As anticipated we see an obvious seismic increase has started around 20 August.
“Since the 18th no less than five magnitude six plus quakes have occurred, peaking at magnitude 7.4.
“An 8 plus magnitude earthquake may occur today or tomorrow, but much more likely between the 28th and the 31st.”
The new age researcher claims that planetary alignments affect seismic activity on Earth, in a similar way to how the moon causes tidal activity, but his theory has faced ridicule from sceptics, who say it has no basis in science and point to the fact that earthquakes happen somewhere across the globe on an almost daily basis.
But Mr Hoogerbeets, from the Netherlands, says his ongoing study of the alignments and earthquake activity has shown there must be a link, despite accepting it is not scientifically proven.
He said on August 21: “Since August 18 there have been four magnitude 6 quakes and one magnitude 7.
“This is a clear increase and it tells us once again that planetary resonances are of major influence.”
He claims his research has shown as planets line up with the Earth, and our world gets closer to them, we are bombarded by resonances which could trigger seismic activity on Earth.
He is urging geologists to at least investigate his theory to see if it can help develop an early-warning system.
He said: “You will not see large earthquakes without planetary alignments influencing our planet and moon.
“As the correlation between large seismic movement and amplified planetary resonances becomes more and more apparent, it will be increasingly difficult for scientists to deny the influence of interplanetary electromagnetic waves.
“My claim is that if seismologists learn about planetary influences they may raise the alarm in time, saving thousands of lives.”
Earlier this month, Mr Hoogerbeets detailed a series of different planetary alignments between August 22 and 25, that he says could see an earthquake as powerful as magnitude nine striking.
He said: “This combination of alignments may cause the first severe increase in seismic activity around this time.
“If the alignments up until the 25th are not enough, on the 27th Earth lines up with Venus and Jupiter at 10.23pm UTC while Mercury is very close.
“On 28 August the Mercury-Venus-Jupiter alignment will be exact at 11.53am UTC.
“Earth is very close to this alignment.
“This is the first date in this forecast time window when Earth Harmonics would allow for an eight plus magnitude earthquake.
“Two more powerful alignments will occur on August 29 bombarding Earth with even more amplified resonances.
“August 30 is the second possible date for an eight plus magnitude earthquake.”
But he claims things could continue as they are with a risk of earthquakes until September 4.
“The most critical timeframe without a doubt will be August 25 to 31, with possibly of an eight to nine magnitude earthquake.
“The final critical time-frame of this forecast will be 2-4 September.
“Have an earthquake plan ready, just in case.”
Mr Hoogerbeets has made several predictions, but with distinctly mixed results – and he no longer predicts where on the globe, or the exact dat they will strike
Apart from the Nepal quake, he claims to have predicted five significant earthquakes last year:
But, last December he faced ridicule after predicting a powerful magnitude eight earthquake that could “change the world forever” would strike on the 11 or 12 of the month, only for it to fail to materialise.
There was also the much publicised mega quake he warned was about to hit California last May – but it too never arrived.
He has faced much criticism because his methods originate from new age theories such as geometric patterns, numbers in nature and divine triangle numeration.
Sceptics and mainstream scientists say that with him making so many predictions, which are often vague on precise dates or locations, he is bound to strike lucky some times.
One online poster said: “There’s no reason to be scared. He cannot predict tectonic plate movement and the planets can’t either.”
Astronomer Phil Plait, who writes for New Scientist, said of his predictions: “Let me be clear: No, it won’t. It can’t.
“There is simply no way an alignment of planets can cause an earthquake on Earth. It’s literally impossible.”
Speaking after today’s Italian quake Dr Brian Baptie, of the British Geological Survey, said past scientific studies had shown it was not possible to predict “when and where” and earthquake would strike, or how strong it would be.
He said: “You can look at probabilities in an area, over a longer period, but it is not possible to make short-term predictions.”
He said having emergency plans in place and retro-fitting buildings to withstand tremors was the best option.