Emergency Plans

2001 Vesuvius Emergency Plan (updated in 2007)

Dangerous zones

Alert levels


What happens in case of an ongoing eruption

Plan evolution



The national emergency plan to protect the inhabitants from a possible eruption of the Vesuvius area has as its baseline the explosive event of 1631.

Drafted by the scientific community has identified three areas with different hazard defined: the red zone, yellow zone and the blue zone. It 'important to note that the eruption of Vesuvius will not be sudden but will be preceded by a series of precursory phenomena already identified some time before as monitored by the Naples section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology-INGV, which controls the state the volcano 24 hours 24.

The national contingency plan, based on the expected precursory phenomena, identifies four levels of alert following: base, attention, warning, alarm, which correspond to subsequent operational steps, which mark the times of civil protection measures to secure the population and territory.

The whole red area is evacuated, moving to safe areas, the population of the 18 municipalities.


Red Zone. The red zone is the area immediately surrounding the volcano, and is in greater danger as potentially subject to invasion by pyroclastic flows, or mixtures of gases and solids at high temperature which, sliding along the slopes of the volcano at high speed can destroy in a short time everything is on its way. Pyroclastic flows probably will not grow at 360 ° in the neighborhood of the volcano, but will head in one or more preferential directions, it is not possible to know beforehand what the areas actually affected by the flow. The speed with which they develop these phenomena associated with their destructive potential, but does not wait for the start of the eruption to implement preventive measures. Therefore, the National Emergency Plan provides that the red area is completely evacuated before the eruption. The red zone comprises 18 municipalities with a total of about 200kmq extension and just under 550mila population.

Yellow Zone. The yellow zone has a less dangerous than the red and corresponds to the entire area that could be affected by the fallout of pyroclastic particles - ash and lapilli - which may, inter alia, provide a disproportionate burden on the roofs of buildings to determine collapse. The fallout of particles may also cause respiratory problems, particularly in susceptible individuals are not adequately protected, damage to crops and problems to air traffic, rail and road.

It is expected that, as happened in 1631, only 10% of the yellow zone will actually be affected by the fallout particles, suffering damage. Again, however, is not possible to know beforehand what the area actually affected, as will depend on the height of the eruption column and direction and wind speed at high altitude at the time of the eruption. Unlike the red zone, however, the phenomena expected in the yellow zone do not constitute an immediate danger to the population and must spend a certain amount of time before the fallen material to accumulate on roofs of buildings to cause any failure structures.

Therefore, there is the possibility of waiting for the beginning of the eruption to see what the affected area and proceed, if necessary, evacuation of the population that resides there. The yellow zone affects the provinces of Naples, Avellino, Benevento and Salerno.

The Blue Zone. The Blue Zone falls within the yellow zone, but is subject to an agent of further danger. Corresponds to the "valley of Nola," which, for its hydrogeological characteristics, may be subject to floods and floods as well as the fallout of ash and lapilli.



Basic level. The base rate is the current one: a state of activity characterized by the absence of ground deformation, low seismicity, lack of significant changes in the gravity field, constant values ??of temperature and composition of fumarolic gases.

Phase of attention. Upon the occurrence of significant changes in physical and chemical parameters of the volcano, Vesuvius Observatory is expected to inform the Civil Protection Department, which consulted the top experts of the sector from the National Commission for the prediction and prevention of major risks, establishes 'eventual transition to the stage of attention. At this stage the management of any action is entrusted to the Relief Coordination Centre (CCS), established at the Prefecture of Naples.

The variations observed at this stage, however, are not necessarily indicative of the approach of an eruption, and all could easily return to normal, so there is no direct involvement of the population. In any case, the mayors of the municipalities concerned are supported to start its logistics and provide information to the population.

Pre-alert phase. If there is another variation of controlled parameters, you would enter the stage of early warning. In this phase, the operational control passes to the national level, is declared a state of emergency, appoint a Deputy Commissioner, called the Operating Committee of Civil Protection. The police and rescuers are positioned on the territory according to established plans.

At this stage the population is also involved: those who want to leave can do so safely, without fear of leaving their homes unattended, as it is already active supervision of a garrison. Residents of areas at risk can reach their own autonomous systems. However, they follow the instructions of the Emergency Plan of the municipality itself - prepared in accordance with the national plan - as regards the means of removal to be followed in order to allow easier flow of traffic and avoid obstruction to the rescuers. They must also communicate their decision to the Mayor and the data of the locality where they are going to settle.

The area is gradually being manned by rescuers. Health facilities are evacuated in advance of the population are in fact needed more time to plan and regulate the safety of residents and persons in need of assistance.

At this stage you start, and measures for the protection of cultural heritage: to secure the population is a priority, but it is also important to secure and protect the priceless Beniculturali transportable to the extent possible, cultural property. At this stage, if the Commission Major Hazards in the light of developments, believes that the activity of the volcano came back below the pre-alert phase, the Civil Protection Department says the return to the stage of attention.

Alarm stage. If the phenomenon were to continue to increase, you would enter the stage of alarm. This means that experts say now almost certain the eruption, which could occur over several weeks. The alarm is triggered when, in fact, a few weeks before the eruption. The whole red area is evacuated and the population of 18 municipalities moved to safe areas. Already active in the territory will be the Mixed Operations Centers (Com) under the National Plan of emergency, to coordinate activities at the local level.

In this phase, ensure removal of the entire population from the red zone. The Plan provides that the maximum time of 72 hours, the 600 thousand inhabitants in the red zone to be moved, according to the specific instructions contained in the individual municipal plans. The public can obtain its own autonomous system of first asylum or areas outside the zone at risk - structures identified by the region of Campania and its neighboring regions, using his own car or public transport by road provided by the civil protection. We use transport routes and the "gates" of access to the main roads in the established emergency plan. Trains and ships are used as strategic resources to handle any critical phase of implementation of the plan and possible further influx of rescuers. Removal along the main areas are set up information and outreach - information point - where citizens can find information and any logistical support and health.

Each of the 18 municipalities of the Vesuvian region is twinned with an Italian MEP to host the population of the red zone in the long term. After the safety of the citizens of the red zone in the areas of first asylum, we proceed with cars, buses and trains to transfer to the twinned region.

Upon completion of the evacuation, rescue workers also fold in the yellow zone, while the police have a safety belt on the border of the red zone. Again, if the situation were to fall, the Civil Protection Department said after-care phase alarm to return to pre-alert phase.

On the contrary, the eruption took place, the red area is already completely cleared. The inhabitants of the area of the yellow zone affected by the fallout particles are temporarily housed in shelters in the Campania region, while the scientific community is constantly monitoring the evolution of the eruption until it is finished. Once the eruptive activity are carrying out the necessary dell'agibilità structures and damage to the affected areas and can then start over, where possible, the return of the population previously removed.

As we have seen, the waiting period between registration of the first eruption precursory phenomena and the eruption of the evacuation itself could last for months. Civil protection, right from the outset and throughout the emergency, promptly and timely inform the public about what is happening and simultaneously put in place all necessary measures and actions necessary to safeguard life and property in areas at risk.



As mentioned, the inhabitants of the red zone should be removed before the eruption. Of course, in Campania, there would be able to accommodate 600 thousand people, therefore, also to enable the maintenance of social relationships and continuity of school activities, each of the 18 municipalities in the red zone is twinned with a region that, in case of eruption, it the host population. The heads of families who are moving away from its own resources and the families who benefited from resources made available, therefore, be reunited twin places already provided by the National Plan of emergency.

Here are the twinnings of the plan: S. Giorgio a Cremano - Lazio; Portici - Emilia Romagna; Ercolano - Tuscany, San Sebastiano al Vesuvio - Molise; Pollena Trocchia - Umbria, Massa di Somma - Umbria, Ottaviano - Piemonte and Valle D'Aosta, Anastasia - Marche; Cercola - Friuli Venezia Giulia, San Giuseppe Vesuviano - Lombardy Terzigno - Veneto Boscoreale - Puglia, Pompei - Liguria; Torre del Greco - Sicily Torre Annunziata - Calabria Trecase - Basilicata; Boscotrecase - Basilicata.


The population of the red zone is all outside the area at risk and the area affected by potentially destructive phenomena completely evacuated.

The yellow zone is exposed to risk of relapse of ash and lapilli: It is not possible to identify in advance the area actually involved. The area around the volcano is divided into 16 sectors: for each is shown the probability that the wind direction will bring you the deposit of relapse. The chances are highest for people in areas east of the volcano, under the direction of dispersion of fallout deposits of the historical eruptions of Vesuvius.

Approximately 10-15% of the population will actually be interested depending on the direction of prevailing winds. It will, therefore, an operational strategy for variable removal and receipt for the population concerned. The operations will take place during the event in progress with the acceptance of fixed structures in the same region of Campania. The duration of the phenomena is, in fact, limited to a short time, and cause local damage, albeit important. This is why it is not necessary or appropriate to remove outside the region the population of the yellow zone.

Also for the Blue Zone strategy provides for the expulsion of the population at current event. In fact, mudflows, caused by the drag function of ash from rainwater are to be expected during the current event, once you will earn enough volcanic deposit, but even then, and cause serious problems for the movement of people and vehicles. May be particularly vulnerable settlements, industrial and handicraft at the foot of slopes where the slope has allowed for the accumulation of considerable amounts of ash.


The plan is constantly updated to reflect advances in scientific knowledge, but also the continuous change of the urban and the population density of one of the most populated areas of the world. The main objective of the Plan is to safeguard the lives of people living on its slopes. More than 550,000 people live in the highly urbanized area.

The greater the knowledge of how to behave, paths to follow and places to be achieved by the people involved in emergency, the greater will be the evolution of the plan to a more streamlined organizational form of relief.

The commission process since 1991 and update the emergency planning in the Vesuvius area are established by the Department of Civil Protection.

Plan updating phases

1991 First Commission - guidelines for evaluation the risk of eruption in the Vesuvius area

1993 Second Commission - National Emergency Plan for the Vesuvius Area

1995 First version of the National Emergency Plan

2001 First Update of the Plan

2003 Appointment of the current Commission for a constant update of the Plan

The Commission for the update of the National Emergency Plan of the Vesuvius Area involves the following boards:

  • Presidency of the Council of Ministers - Civil Protection Department;
  • Vesuvius Observatory of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
  • Region Campania;
  • Local Government Office of Naples, Avellino, Benevento, Salerno;
  • Provinces of Naples, Avellino, Benevento, Salerno;
  • 18 Municipalities of the Vesuvius red zone;
  • Italian Railway Network;
  • Italian Motorway S;
  • Anas - National Autonomous Road Company;
  • Enac - National Board for Civilian Aviation;
  • General Command of of Port Authorities;
  • Ministry of Education, University and Scientific Research;
  • Ministry of Interior - Public Safety;
  • Ministry of Interior - Fire Department.

The Commissions that from 1991 elaborate and update emergency planning in the Vesuvius area are established by the Civil Protection Deparment.