Residents slam Italy’s Vesuvius escape plan

Residents living around Mount Vesuvius, described as a "volcanic ticking timebomb", have complained to the European Court of Human Rights that Italy has failed to come up with an adequate disaster relief plan should the volcano erupt.

Residents slam Italy's Vesuvius escape plan
Mount Vesuvius was described in National Geographic magazine as "the world's most dangerous volcano". Photo: DmitryK/Flickr

A group of twelve residents have taken their plight to the Strasbourg court on behalf of the one million people who live and work around the volcano, which is close to Naples, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

They say the evacuation plans are “inadequate” with many escape routes blocked by illegal building.

The move follows a warning by Japanese expert, Nakada Setsuya, who said “Vesuvius will erupt – that is certain, because it is an active volcano, even if we cannot predict when.” Setsuya was speaking during a volcano conference in Italy in September.

A report in National Geographic in August 2007 also said that current evacuation plans would not get people out in time if “the world’s most dangerous volcano”, which sits on a 154 square mile layer of magma, erupted like it did in 79 AD, burying the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing 20,000 people.

Vesuvius has erupted 30 times since then, most recently in 1944, when it killed 26 people. The most serious blast since Pompeii was in 1631, when it killed 4,000 people.

Naples officials have repeatedly played down reports that Vesuvius might be set to erupt, ANSA said.

Italy’s emergency procedure is based on four levels of alarm being given, with the evacuation of 550,000 people living in a 200 square kilometre “red zone” within 72 hours.

Once the volcano has erupted, residents living in the “yellow zone” will be evacuated if ash falls and gases released by the volcano pose a danger. However, the plan is reported to be based on one drawn up after the blast in 1631 and not the one which destroyed Pompeii. 

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?