AN ITALIAN village was evacuated yesterday as investigators attempted to explain an outbreak of spontaneous household appliance combustions, which have left locals fearing for their safety.
Fridges, cookers, televisions, washing machines, mobile telephones and furniture have burst into flame for no apparent reason at a dozen houses in the Sicilian village of Canneto di Caronia near Messina.
Authorities initially suspected the fires were caused by overhead cables on a nearby railway line, but the outbreaks continued even after the villages electricity supply was cut off, leading some locals to blame supernatural forces.
Pedro Spinnato, the village mayor, has ordered the evacuation so further investigations can be carried out.
"This has been going on for three weeks now and there is no explanation for it. We cannot risk a tragedy through these fires, so I have no other option but to evacuate the village," said Mr Spinnato.
"We have had electrical engineers in to examine cables and wires but they can find no explanation. It is not just electrical items, furniture is also catching fire for no reason.
"Already people are blaming the events on evil spirits and I am being asked to get the local priest to perform an exorcism."
"I've seen things like this before," Catholic exorcist Gabriele Amorth told Italian daily Il Messagero. "Demons occupy a house and appear in electrical goods...Let's not forget that Satan and his followers have immense powers."
"I've seen unplugged electrical cables burst into flames with my own eyes, but I just can't explain it," a local policeman who did not want to be named said Wednesday. "I've never seen anything like it."