Under a new regulation, which came into effect today, the residents of Italy’s Vulcano island have been ordered to evacuate from their homes nightly for the next 30 days, because of the potential threat posed by the volcanic activity.
The residents must vacate their homes between 11pm and 6am local time due to the concerns about potentially lethal gases emitted from the La Fossa volcano crater.
Vulcano’s Mayor Marco Giorgianni has also barred outside visitors from the island as a safety precaution.
According to Giorgianni, the drastic measures were necessary as “the unconsciousness of sleep would not allow residents to detect the risks.”
Vulcano, which forms part of the Aeolian archipelago, will also prohibit any tourism for the next month. The moves come a month after the civil protection agency updated the alert level to “significant,” and just days after Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology warned of “abnormally high” levels of carbon dioxide at the volcanic crater.
Officials on the island also declared a state of crisis alongside imposing the protective measures in case there is an increase in volcanic activity or gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Gases released by the volcano mean that oxygen levels on the island could drop, potentially causing lethal breathing difficulties. Carbon dioxide levels have reportedly risen from a normal level of 80 tons to around 480 tons, according to volcanologists cited by ANSA.
The island – its name a combination of ‘volcano’ and ‘Vulcan’, the Roman god of fire – has experienced frequent eruptions throughout history, most recently from 1888 to 1890.