Sunday, October 29, 2006
Mount Vesuvius is being tested!
Police, firefighters, doctors and civil servants were on hand to test the emergency plan in a so-called "red zone" around the volcano, where 600 000 people are threatened by a potential eruption.
European experts and observers were also among the 2 500 people mobilised for the progressive four-day operation which began on Thursday and is the largest simulation of its kind, officials said.
Heavy rains on Sunday - muddying roads and delaying the excercise - did not help matters. But Italian civilian protection head Guido Bertolaso rejoiced in the adverse conditions.
"The more difficult the conditions, the better we can test the system," Bertolaso told the Italian news agency Ansa.
Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, vomiting rivers of lava over 11 consecutive days.
The explosion killed 26 people and left another 12 000 homeless.
Hundreds of people were saved due to a warning given a week earlier.