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Italian island of Vulcano evacuates inhabitants due to carbon dioxide levels

Carbon dioxide levels around the volcanic island of Vulcano in the Aeolian archipelago off the northern coast of Sicily have dropped from 80 tonnes to 480 tonnes, effectively reducing the amount of oxygen in the air, according to Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

Gas levels began to rise noticeably on October 21, when residents began reporting respiratory and health issues with their pets, which are often affected by lower oxygen levels before humans.

Marco Giorgianni, the mayor of Lipari, which includes the seven islands of the Aeolian archipelago, signed an ordinance ordering the evacuation of the port area and designating a “red zone” where non-researchers or those responsible for the civil protection are prohibited from staying.

In the so-called “yellow zones” people can stay but will have to stay on the upper floors of their homes.

The ordinance also bans all non-resident visitors and tourists to the island for one month.

In a post on the Facebook page of the commune of Lipari, Giorgianni explained on Sunday that the evacuation was not due to the threat of an imminent eruption, but because of the dangerous emission of gas.

“The activity of the volcano at this time gives us a reason to be careful even though almost all the data indicates a condition of stability,” he said, referring to the volcanic activity. “The data that motivated my prescription is the increase in gas emissions.”

He added that authorities have been tracking gas emissions for a month and that they have reached a level potentially dangerous for humans, especially at night when they sleep.

“My citizens should reside where the air is the safest and the healthiest in this region,” he said.

According to INGV’s Palermo and Catania-Etneo Observatory website, four geochemical stations to measure soil CO2 are now operational. The observatory has also installed seven new seismic stations (six on Vulcano and one on Lipari) to complete those already in place. A high-definition thermal camera was also installed to monitor soil temperatures.

According to the ordinance, residents will receive monthly allowances of € 400 for individual households, € 500 for two-person households, € 700 for three-person households and € 800 for households of more than four people to compensate for the costs. costs of finding alternative accommodation.

Vulcano – named after Vulcan, the god of fire, and from which the English word volcano is derived – erupted on March 22, 1890, according to the INGV.

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