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In October 2006 the European Civil Protection Exercise MESIMEX (Somma Vesuvio Mesimex – Major Emergency SIMulation Exercise) on volcanic risk took place at Vesuvio, promoted by Campania Region and coordinated by the Italian Civil Protection Department. The exercise was focused on the preparedness phase for a major volcanic emergency in the area of Vesuvio. An evacuation of a sample of 1800 inhabitants from the Vesuvio Red Zone was also tested during the drill because the emergency plan ensures the complete evacuation of the population from the higher risk zone before the onset of the eruption. During that event a survey on volcanic risk perception was carried out on the evacuated population in order to compare the results with the ones coming from a previous similar survey, using the same questionnaire, carried out on a wider sample of residents in the Vesuvio Red Zone few months before MESIMEX exercise. The aim was to point out any differences in population’s attitude towards volcanic risk after having received detailed information on the emergency plan and on the hazards and risk related to the reactivation of Vesuvio, and experiencing the exercise. 463 questionnaires were distributed to the population evacuated from the 18 municipalities of the Red Zone and participating to the exercise. Main results in comparing data from MESIMEX survey with the Vesuvio previous one, put in evidence how the general level of Vesuvio residents’ trust remains quite low, indicating that a continuous and effective effort has to be done by both scientific community and Civil Protection Department. Particular attention should be paid in education and outreach activities and in involving people in risk mitigation procedures, also through more frequent exercises.
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