An Italian court has convicted six scientists and a government official of manslaughter for failing to give adequate warning of a deadly earthquake in 2009.

The earthquake destroyed the central city of L'Aquila and killed more than 300 people.

The seven were sentenced to six years in prison.

They were accused of negligence and malpractice in their evaluation of the danger of an earthquake and their duty to keep the city informed of the risks.

The case has drawn wide condemnation from international bodies, which said the risk of litigation may deter scientists from advising governments or even working to assess seismic risk.

A 6.3 strength earthquake struck L'Aquila in Italy's Abruzzo region at 3.32am on 6 April, 2009, injuring more than 1,000 people and killing hundreds more in their sleep.

At the heart of the case was whether the experts gave an overly reassuring picture of the risks facing the town, which contained many ancient buildings and had previously been damaged by earthquakes.

The case focused in particular on a series of low-level tremors that hit the region in the months preceding the earthquake and which prosecutors said should have warned experts not to underestimate the risk of a major shock.

The scientists, all members of an official body called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, are unlikely to be sent to jail pending a probable appeal trial.