What appeared to be a giant skull has materialized over Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that is located in Campania near Naples in southern Italy. Speculations as to what caused the formation of smoke and fire around the volcano have emerged, with one consistent theory that it was due to surrounding wildfires. Around a thousand tourists were evacuated by boats from ensuing wildfires on Wednesday, July 12 in Sicily, as southern Italy was subjected to the extreme effects of the heat after experiencing little to no rain over the last couple of months. One such fire broke out at the Calampiso seaside resort in Sauci Grande, San Vito Lo Capo.
Danilo Giannese, one of the evacuees in Sicily, said the situation caused panic among the tourists, but that it was handled with professionalism, noting, “There was a lot of tension, especially among the elderly and children, many of whom were crying. Thankfully the operation was conducted in an orderly fashion.”
Another resort guest, Stella Belliotti, recounted tales from her experience: “To see the resort surrounded by flames from the boat was terrible. Now we just want to forget it.”
There had been no reports of injuries as per the fire at the Calampiso seaside resort, which is located west of Campania’s capital Palermo, but San Vito Lo Capo Mayor Matteo Rizzo requested help from the national government, saying, “We need minibuses and cars to pick people up at the little port and take them to school buildings. Let’s all do something.”
According to Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, 23 fires broke out in the area surrounding Mount Vesuvius. The fires allegedly started in the Campanian national park on Wednesday, July 5 and have stretched as far as two kilometers long. Gentiloni said the government was “actively following this difficult situation”.
Mount Vesuvius is in no danger of suddenly erupting, however, it looks like it’s spewing ash and lava into the air because of the formation of smoke and fire around it.
Local governments declared states of emergency for the northern agricultural provinces of Parma and Piacenza due to extreme cases of drought.
Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said there had been too many incidences of fire on Mount Vesuvius for the matter to be a coincidence, and agreed with those who think the Mafia may be behind the recent fires, noting, “I don’t have proof, but it does not seem to be an isolated action or chance: Three ignition points are too many to be the result of carelessness or combustion.”
People who were of the belief that members of the Mafia started the fires include writer Roberto Saviano. In a Facebook post, he said criminal organizations caused the fires in the Campanian national park to get rid of garbage in illegal landfill sites, and to stop the construction of some government projects.
Galletti said one person has already been arrested in suspicion of arson, noting, “If someone set fire to Vesuvius, I want to see them in jail for 15 years.”
In a statement, the World Wildlife Fund said it was dangerous for people and animals to be near the volcano at the moment, noting, “The situation is extreme, so extraordinary action needs to be taken.” (Related: Report: Supervolcano that could kill millions of Europeans ready to blow.)
Such action entails a nationwide declaration of state of emergency. Beppe Grillo, head of government detractor 5-Star Movement, said in his blog “#Vesuviusisburning”, as he called for the nation to be declared under a state of emergency.
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