The mayor of the island of Vulcano, in Sicily’s Aeolian archipelago, has ordered the evacuation of about 150 people. He has also banned tourists due to increased volcanic activity and gases in the area.
The island gave volcanoes their names. It is a tiny island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 15 miles (25km) north of Sicily. Last October, Last October, Italy’s civil protection agency issued an amber alert after a series of significant changes in volcanic parameters.
Harbour area most exposed to sulphurous gases
The island’s harbour area is considered the most exposed to sulphurous gases. It is from this area the mayor, Marco Giorgianni, ordered the evacuation of approximately 150 people.
“Data indicate an increase in gases that create strong concern because they can constitute a threat to public health,” the mayor said on Saturday. He spoke with residents in a meeting broadcast live on Facebook.
According to the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), there has been an increase in heavy gases. They reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air, creating respiratory difficulties that can have deadly effects.
Local authorities also created a “red zone” where the level of gas attributed to volcanic activity is more concentrated. There values of carbon dioxide (CO2) are above normal levels. They also restricted the movement of remaining residents from their homes between 11pm and 6am. The island will be off limits for tourists for a month.
Sickness in pets
On 21 October, several residents reported that volcanic emissions had caused sickness in their pets. “One day I suddenly noticed that my 10 cats were lying on the floor as if they had passed out,” Stefania Lombardo told the Italian daily la Repubblica. “And I wasn’t feeling well either, I had difficulty breathing. They told me it was just a panic attack, then the doctors confirmed that the cause for the sickness was the exhalation of gases from the crater.”
Last month, referring to “increased degassing, temperatures and seismicity” on the island, Marco Pistolesi, a volcanology professor at the University of Pisa, said, “for those who know the island, this has never been observed before”.
The last eruption on Vulcano was more than 130 years ago. It lasted from 2 August 1888 to 22 March 1890, nearly 600 days.
The island’s name came from the Romans. They believed the tiny island was the chimney of Vulcan, the god of fire.