Half of the approximately 500 inhabitants of the volcanic island of Vulcano in Italy have been banned from staying in their homes at night. During this time, they are obliged to leave the so-called red zone. It was designated in the area where the level of carbon dioxide emission was hazardous to health. This caused respiratory problems in humans and animals. The costs of alternative accommodation for the evacuated are covered by the allowances granted by the local authorities.
The island of Vulcano lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Aeolian archipelago north of Sicily, it covers an area of 21 square kilometers. In recent days, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the island’s volcanic crater has increased from 80 tons to 480 tons per day, reducing the proportion of oxygen in the air, the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) reported.
The “red zone” on the island of Vulcano
The concentration of carbon dioxide began to rise significantly on October 21. It was then that residents began reporting respiratory problems they had observed with themselves and their pets.
A “red zone” has been established in the port area in the northern part of the island, where the highest CO2 concentration is recorded. According to the Italian daily La Stampa, the island is permanently inhabited by about 500 people, half of whom have houses in the “red zone”. According to the ordinance of Marco Giorgianni, the mayor of Lipari, a town and island of the same name near Vulcano, effective from Monday, November 22, 250 inhabitants of the port area are not allowed to stay in their homes from 11 PM to 6 AM. It has been found that pollution is particularly dangerous at night, during sleep.
The mayor revealed that “toxic gases have killed several cats belonging to residents in the harbor area in recent weeks.”
Thus, until further notice, only persons conducting research and measurements as well as service officers, including civil defense officers, may stay in the area covered by the “red zone” at night. The regulation also prohibits tourists from entering the island for one month.
Accommodation allowances for residents
To compensate for the cost of finding alternative accommodation, residents will receive special monthly allowances. They will range from EUR 400 for one-person households to EUR 800 for families larger than four.
There are currently four geochemical stations on the island to measure CO2 from the soil. The Astrophysics Observatory in Catania has also installed seven new seismic measurement stations in the archipelago, including six on the island of Vulcano. The ground temperature is monitored with a high-resolution thermal camera.
According to INGV, the last eruption on the island took place over 130 years ago. It lasted from August 2, 1888 to March 22, 1890.
CNN, The Guardian, La Stampa
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