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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Earthquake in Catania after Etna Eruption, Alert for Vesuvius, Naples

Environment

Roberto Tumbarello

Mon, 31 Dec 2018 12:24 GMT

There was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake on 26th December in Catania, right on the slopes of Etna, the Sicilian volcano that erupted on 24th December. Geologists are convinced that the earthquake was due to the volcanic eruption. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. 28 people were injured, damaged houses were evacuated and 600 people are now accommodated in hotels.

The epicentre of the earthquake was located in the village of Fleri, a few miles to the north of the port city of Catania, whose inhabitants woke up to find the town under a blanket of ash. Road traffic was interrupted for some hours and the A18 motorway connecting Catalia to Messina was closed. Flights at Fontanarossa airport were suspended and Civil Protection forces were brought in.

Etna is an active volcano but it has never caused damage to the surrounding territory. Experts believe that the earthquake is related to climate change, which in recent months has wreaked havoc in southern Italy, where the sun usually shines even in winter and the climate is always mild. This year, the weather was devastating. There were torrential rains and overflowing rivers, there were landslides and floods causing billions of euros worth of damage and there were many victims. The fury of the waters destroyed a large number of houses, including a villa where 11 people were gathered to celebrate a family anniversary. Nine of them died, including two children.

Earthquakes are notoriously hard to predict, however, volcanologists do not exclude the possibility that in the next days the earth may tremble again, not only around Etna but throughout Sicily and even in the southern regions of mainland Italy.

It is feared that it may be possible that even Vesuvius, the volcano that overlooks the Bay of Naples, extinct for 74 years, could awaken. The last eruption dates back to 1944, during the Second World War. But given the instability of climate conditions, which coincide with global warming, it may be that the increase in toxic gases in the atmosphere could also upset the geological and telluric equilibrium.

Unlike Etna, where cities and villages are far from the mouth of the volcano and therefore not in danger from lava flow, there are 700,000 people living at the foot of Vesuvius.

Torre del Greco, Ponticelli, Ottaviano, San Giovanni a Teduccio, Pomigliano d'Arco, Portici, Torre Annunziata, Somma Vesuviana and Ercolano would be in danger if Vesuvius were to erupt. The Civil Protection Department has prepared an evacuation plan to be implemented at the first signs of danger; the estimated time to save the entire population is 72 hours.

The 79 AD eruption, lasting two whole days over August 24th and 25th, destroyed Herculaneum, Pompeii, Stabiae and Oplontis. The tragic event was described in a letter that Pliny the Younger wrote to a friend, Cornelius Tacitus.



Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.

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