Etna state of emergency declaredgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 23:52 GMT
The Italian Government has declared a state of emergency in parts of Sicily, after a series of earthquakes accompanying the eruption of Mount Etna forced about 1,000 people flee their homes.
The decision was taken at an emergency cabinet meeting in Rome.
Hundreds of tremors have been registered since the eruption began on Sunday, but Tuesday's was the largest, at 4.3 on the Richter scale.
It was followed by two more quakes registering 3.6 and 4.0, adding to the panic of local villagers.
More than 100 homes were damaged in Santa Venerina, and holiday hotels have been requisitioned to accommodate the displaced families.
A ship equipped with a medical clinic aboard was positioned off Catania - to the south of the volcano - to be ready in case of emergency, the Civil Defence press office said.
"We are concerned and we are trying to find out... if we can expect even more worrying developments," Italy's European Affairs Minister Rocco Butiglione told AFP news agency.
Meanwhile, two streams of lava are continuing to flow down the southern and northern slopes of the volcano.
Residential areas are not threatened but tourist facilities have been swallowed up, and acres of pine forest have been consumed by fire.
Etna is a popular skiing area, and the season would normally be beginning soon.
Ski lifts on the southern side of the volcano were swamped by lava last year.
Those on the northern slopes have already been damaged by this latest eruption.
Emergency workers have been digging channels in the earth in an attempt to divert the northern flow away from the town of Linguaglossa.
Schools in the town have been shut down, although the church has remained open for people to pray.
Apart from Santa Venerina, Tuesday's earthquake also affected the villages of Giarre, and Zafferana Etnea.
Civil defence official Enrico Galeani said some people had been slightly injured.
The airport outside the city of Catania remained closed on Tuesday for a third day.
Ash has been falling continuously on the city, and drifting across the Mediterranean as far as Libya.
Europe's biggest and most active volcano has been throwing magma more than 100 metres (330 feet) into the air, in a spectacular display.
The lava has swallowed buildings, including at least one restaurant, knocked down power lines and pushed over ski-lift pylons.
Mount Etna has had four major eruptions in the last 309 years.
Vulcanologists have warned that it is gradually becoming more explosive and more dangerous.
Etna is almost constantly rumbling, but had not erupted since July and August last year, which experts described as one of the most erratic and complex displays in 300 years.
Its last big eruption was in 1992.
-- Anonymous, October 29, 2002