Residents on the small Italian island of Vulcano have been ordered to evacuate at night over increased volcanic activity and dangerous levels of carbon dioxide.
Around 250 people were told to leave their homes on Sunday, while a one-month ban on tourist arrivals to the island has also come into force.
A high concentration of CO2 has been recorded in the gases emanating from the local volcano’s vents in recent days.
Last month, several residents had reported difficulties breathing and health issues with their pets.
Marco Giorgianni — mayor of the Aeolian islands — issued an order banning people from staying indoors between 23:00 and 06:00 to avoid breathing the dangerous CO2 levels overnight.
According to data provided by volcanologists and scientists, the volcano’s daily production of CO2 is 480 tonnes, nearly six times the normal levels.
Giorgianni said in a Facebook video that the emission of gases has generated “great concern” for public health on Vulcano.
“It is a heavy gas that goes down to the ground and reduces the amount of oxygen, which creates respiratory difficulties that can have lethal effects,” he added.
The area of the island considered most at risk is a six-kilometre region near Puerto de Levante, he added.
Although residents will move to houses and hotels in “safe areas”, shops and bars in the so-called “red zone” will remain open during the day.
Fifteen Red Cross volunteers and four Civil Protection volunteers are present on the island alongside Italy’s Carabinieri to manage the situation.
The municipality is also providing assistance to those affected ranging from 400 euros to 800 euros per month.
The island of Vulcano — which is named after the Roman god of fire Vulcan — is located just north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
According to the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), the volcano on the island last erupted over 130 years ago.