Strongest Earthquake in 40 Years Forces Thousands to Spend Night on Streets

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.21 - 2024 1:10 PM CET

Seismographs recorded 150 quakes in four hours near Naples, forcing residents to spend the night in cars and tents.

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During the night, residents of the Campi Flegrei region near Naples experienced the strongest earthquake in four decades. The powerful tremors, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, forced thousands to seek refuge in cars and tents.

Seismic Activity

The seismic event began at 7:51 p.m. with an initial quake of 3.5 magnitude, escalating to a 4.4 quake at 8:10 p.m. The tremors continued for hours, with seismographs recording 150 quakes in just four hours.

The epicenter was near Pozzuoli and Solfatara, areas known for their volcanic activity and hot volcanic fumes.

Residents of Pozzuoli, Bacoli, and Bagnoli rushed to the streets, many opting to sleep in their cars or makeshift tents. The mayor of Pozzuoli set up four large tents to provide psychological support for those affected, as reported by local media.

The Threat of the "Supervolcano"

The Campi Flegrei, or Phlegraean Fields, is a vast volcanic area covering 150 square kilometers. Despite its last eruption in 1538, its lively magmatic activity classifies it as a supervolcano, posing a threat to nearly half a million residents.

While the community has grown accustomed to frequent but minor seismic activity, the intensity of Monday night's tremors brought a renewed sense of fear.

The region experienced 450 smaller earthquakes in the past month, but the magnitude and persistence of this event were unprecedented.

As scientists from the Institute of Geology and Volcanology (INGV) monitored the situation, residents braced for the worst. The series of quakes left people on edge, with many spending the night outdoors despite the mild temperatures.

Pictures show thousands of people on the streets. The only consolation was that the nights are already mild.

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