Italian authorities have devised an emergency plan, including mass evacuation of people living in the Phlegraean Fields area near Naples, due to a recent series of recurring earthquakes in the region.
The plan, approved by the Italian government on Thursday night, contains measures to safeguard both the local population and infrastructure from major tremors and volcanic eruptions. It must be nailed down within 60 days, and will be supported with 52.2 million euros (55.3 million U.S. dollars), according to the cabinet.
A “stress test” was conducted on Friday at hospitals in towns in the vicinity of the Phlegraean Fields, and an evacuation simulation is scheduled to take place by the end of October, local media reported.
The Phlegraean Fields, known as Campi Flegrei in Italian, is a densely-populated area covering about 130 square km west of Naples.
This region features several craters and is subjected to intense seismic activity. August alone witnessed 1,118 recorded earthquakes, according to the latest monthly report by the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).
Recent seismic events include 270 tremors documented between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1, including a 4.2-magnitude earthquake on Sept. 27, and another with a magnitude of 4.0 on Oct. 2, according to INGV.
In their latest bulletin, INGV experts said the current situation doesn’t suggest any immediate threat of an eruption in the area, despite the relentless seismic activity.
Italian Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci also said the mass evacuation plan would be implemented “in case of extreme necessity only,” according to Italy’s business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. “Yet, it is good practice to have it ready, to develop it and keep it up-to-date,” he said.
The funds allocated by the government for the plan would also help local authorities reinforce their emergency response capabilities and launch public awareness campaigns.
The persistent seismic activity in the Phlegraean Fields, while not a new phenomenon for locals, is linked to the so-called “bradyseism,” which refers to the periodic gradual rising or lowering of the Earth’s surface. (1 euro = 1.06 U.S. dollars)