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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
'We will pay you to leave'
Vesuvius last erupted in 1944
People who live on the slopes of the volcano Vesuvius could be offered 25,000 euros ($29,000; 18,000) to leave their homes.

Italian officials have come up with the plan to try to persuade locals to move away from danger.

But residents might be reluctant to go, even with the prospect of a cash payment

About 600,000 people live in towns within the 'red zone' - the 4.3-mile radius that would be at immediate risk if the volcano erupted.

Its most famous eruption was in 79 AD when 16,000 people were entombed in the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The last eruption was nearly 60 years ago and scientists say Vesuvius is sleeping like a baby at the moment.

Warning signs

But local councillors want to be ready for danger and the cash handouts are designed to make it easier to cope with an emergency.

Those who've lived here for 30 years probably won't move
Marco Di Lello, local councillor

Marco Di Lello, the councillor behind the plans told the Reuters news agency: "Two weeks before the volcano blows there will be definite warning signs and we will have to start evacuations.

"The less people we have to move, the better."

"We're offering 25,000 euros, which should cover about a quarter of the cost of buying a house."

But he is not expecting a big rush.

"People are very much attached to their land.

"Those who've lived here for 30 years probably won't move so we're counting a lot on the young generation who don't yet own a house and haven't started a family,"

Mr Di Lello said he hoped the plan would get the go-ahead from the regional government within two weeks.

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11 Apr 01  |  Science/Nature

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