Vulcano eruption: Italy’s original ‘volcano’ evacuated amid heightened activity

·2-min read
Fumaroles on the Gran Cratere della Fossa, the main crater of Vulcano, on the island of the same name (iStock)
Fumaroles on the Gran Cratere della Fossa, the main crater of Vulcano, on the island of the same name (iStock)

A rise in potentially lethal gases following increased volcanic activity on the island of Vulcano, north of Sicily, has forced its mayor to evacuate hundreds and ban tourists from visiting.

According to reports, around 300 people have been told they cannot stay in their homes overnight. Residents have instead been ordered to seek out alternative accommodation between 11pm and 6am amid concerns that they could be affected by the high levels of CO2 while asleep.

For those needing to stay in hotels, the island’s authority has said it will contribute to costs.

Tourists have also been barred from entering the island for a month.

The island is now under a state of crisis and a regional emergency. The alert level has also been raised from yellow to orange.

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In a meeting with residents broadcasted live on Facebook on Saturday, the mayor said: “Data indicates an increase in gases that create strong concern because they can constitute a threat to public health.”

Due to the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere, there can be a significant reduction in oxygen in the area, creating breathing difficulties.

High concentrations of the gas have been detected in Porto di Levante, a popular tourist hotspot famed for its hot mud pools.

Last month, Porto Levante resident Stefania Lombardo told Italian media: “I suddenly realised that my 10 cats were lying on the ground, as if they were stunned - I also didn’t feel well, I was breathing hard.

“I was told it was just a panic attack, then the doctors confirmed that the cause for the sickness was the exhalation of gases from the crater.”

Vulcano, located in Sicily’s Aeolian archipelago, last had a volcanic eruption between 1888 and 1890.

The island’s active volcano, called the Fossa, has had frequently erupted according to records dating back to ancient times.

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