Emergency evacuation plan finalised as Mount Vesuvius eruption risk increases

‘We have to equip ourselves to be prepared, Mount Vesuvius is a problem of gigantic proportions’

Italian authorities are finalising an emergency plan to evacuate 700,000 people after Mount Vesuvius eruption risk was expanded earlier this year.

Half the population of Naples, a city of three million people, is at risk from Vesuvius, according to a new assessment that has added 63 towns and villages to the list of municipalities that lie in the danger zone.

The plan is in its final stages will be published by the end of the month, according to officials from Italy’s southern Campania region and Department of Civil Protection.

“We have to equip ourselves to be prepared,” regional president Vincenzo De Luca told Italian press, “Mount Vesuvius is a problem of gigantic proportions.”

However despite the increased warnings, Mr De Luca said “alarmism is pointless”.

“We have no particular problems right now, but it is our duty to be prepared. Either you can pretend not to see challenges, or you can face them head on – even the most difficult,” he said.

The 63 new towns, in the provinces of Naples and Salerno, have been placed in a new “yellow zone” by experts because they would experience falling ash and rocks in the event of significant eruption. 

That is in addition to the 600,000 residents in a “red zone” closest to Vesuvius, who are most at risk. People living this near face pyroclastic flows – 200mph waves of gas, ash and rock that would rip down the sides of the volcano.

The last eruption of any magnitude occurred in 1631, killing 6,000 people. There was a smaller explosion with some ash clouds and lava flows in 1944. 

An estimated 2,000 Irish people live in Italy, according to GlobalIrish.ie.