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Protocol in place if European supervolcano erupts with scientists ‘worried’

Protocol in place if European supervolcano erupts with scientists ‘worried’

Officials are putting an evacuation plan in place in case Italy's Campi Flegrei erupts.

Hundreds of thousands of people living in the shadow of a European supervolcano have been warned it could potentially erupt.

Italy's Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) has been displaying some worrying signs of activity in recent weeks.

Scientists fear the volcano is a ticking time bomb and say that there is a very 'realistic possibility' that it could blow.

The last time this occurred was nearly 500 years ago. Some experts have theorised that an eruption 40,000 years ago could have led to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The news of Campi Flegrei's boisterous behaviour has obviously alarmed nearby residents, as well as Italy's government.

The volcano sits west to the city of Naples and is surrounded by towns and villages with a combined population of 500,000.

As you can imagine, safely evacuating that many people would be a massive military manoeuvre.

That's why officials are getting a protocol put in place ahead of time, just in case the worst happens.

Half a million residents would need to evacuate if Campi Flegrei erupted.
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images

Officials sat down last Thursday to discuss safety measures after the region was hit by a string of earthquakes.

More than 1,100 tremors have been recorded in the past month, including a 4.0 magnitude quake on 2 October and a 4.2 on 27 September.

Boffins blame the volcano - saying that a phenomenon called bradyseism is the likely cause of the repeated quakes.

It refers to the upwards or downwards movement of the Earth's crust, caused by the filling or emptying of magma chambers which lie underground.

As part of the plan to prepare for the possibility of an eruption and further tremors, the strength of local buildings will be checked.

Nearby civil protection agencies are set to be armed with additional resources to ensure they can swiftly react.

An evacuation plan has been put in place, which intends to ship half a million people out of the danger zone within three days.

Several hospitals in the area have begun practicing drills to make sure they could make a quick dash to safety, local media said.

The region has been rocked by over 1,000 earthquakes in recent months.
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images

The cabinet are also set to bankroll a communication campaign to raise awareness among the public, according to civil protection minister Nello Musumeci.

He reassured locals last week that evacuations would only take place in the case of 'extreme necessity'.

According to experts, there is no immediate threat of eruption.

However, the volcano is currently on yellow alert — two levels from the highest alert status —meaning people should keep an eye on seismic activity and be prepared for potential evacuation.

Campi Flegrei dwarfs the nearby Mount Vesuvius, which engulfed Pompeii in AD79.

It last erupted in 1538 - which is a whopping 485 years ago - and buried parts of surrounding villages.

A whole new mountain even rose from the ashes of the destruction, which we now know as Monte Nuovo.

But if it did blow again, we could face a global winter and subsequent food shortages.

Let's hope it keeps a lid on the lava.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Image/Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket/Getty Images

Topics: World News, Science, Environment, News