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Understanding damage to non-structural elements, identifying sources of critical issues, and how damage affects the functionality of facilities are all critical aspects for developing general recommendations concerning disaster risk management. In the present paper a review of non-structural damage caused by recent earthquakes was performed in several localities exposed to seismic hazard such as Mt. Etna in Italy, Lisbon and Azores islands in Portugal and southern Lowland in Iceland. This was needed in order to derive the most common non-structural damage framed into the local situation, which in turn is a basic requirement for a well tailored communication campaign. The observed damage to non-structural elements as derived in this study led to the conclusion that the most commonly damaged elements are partition walls, ceiling systems, non-structural vaults, chimneys, building contents and storage racks. Analyses proved that substantive efforts are needed worldwide to improve techniques for reducing damage to non-structural elements. Non-structural mitigation represents a major opportunity for immediate low-cost action to reduce the impacts of earthquakes at home, school and workplaces. Research results within the KnowRISK EU project was the reference ground upon which a wide range of tools for multi-stakeholders (students, business and citizens) to improve seismic performance of non-structural elements and reducing the associated economic losses, loss of functionality, and potential threats to life safety was designed.
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