Ischia volcano could erupt

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 10:21
Ischia Island

As Europe recovers from the Icelandic dust cloud, the Head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Guido Bertalaso, warns that the volcano which worries him most in his own country is the Ischia one. The Ischia volcano, which last erupted 700 years ago, has what Mr Bertalaso refers to as “the most loaded gun barrel” because of the build-up in its magma chamber.

Ischia, a thermal resort, is a popular holiday destination and can be reached easily by hydrofoil from Naples. Scientists say that there is no indication of an imminent eruption and the volcano is being carefully monitored.

Meanwhile Vesuvius, whose eruption buried Pompeii in AD 79, is constantly being monitored. It last erupted in 1944, killing 26 people. Mr Bertolaso said in a press conference that a Vesuvius eruption could cause the most damage, as so many people live on its slopes. Officially the number of inhabitants is 500, 000 but Mr Bertolaso admits that the true figure is more like 650,000 as many people live in unregistered housing there.

The city of Naples could also be threatened by a major eruption of Vesuvius, said Mr Bertolaso. A new evacuation plan for the “red zone” around Vesuvius is to be launched this year.

The Etna volcano in Sicily last erupted in 1992 but its activity often causes road closures in the Catania area and airport disruption.

Etna, too, is constantly monitored but the world’s most monitored volcano is that of the island of Stromboli, because it is in virtually continuous eruption. Its last major eruption was in 2009. Up to 850 people live, unpeturbed, on Stromboli.

A scene from the film "Stromboli" by Rossellini: