Hiker killed as volcano erupts on Italian tourist island of Stromboli
A hiker was reportedly killed and another was injured when a volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli dramatically erupted on Wednesday.
The explosion left molten lava flowing down the flanks of the volcano, setting alight bushes, trees and grass.
There were reports that some tourists had thrown themselves into the sea in panic, while others jumped into boats to evacuate the tiny island, which lies off the coast of Sicily. Residents had barricaded themselves into their homes, according to Ansa, Italy’s national news agency.
The fire brigade commander of the Sicilian city of Messina confirmed the casualties to La Repubblica. The hiker who was killed was later named as Massimo Imbesi, 35, from Sicily. The injured man was from Brazil.
There was a series of violent explosions from the crater of the volcano, which dominates the island.
Fiona Carter, a British tourist on the neighbouring island of Panarea, which lies about 17 miles from Stromboli, heard the eruption.
"We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli. Everyone was in shock. Then red hot lava started running down the mountain towards the little village of Ginostra," she told Reuters.
Tourists are describing the eruption on the Italian island of Stromboli as "enormous."https://t.co/5ig2my4IZY pic.twitter.com/czOJMSsYby
— euronews (@euronews) July 3, 2019
"The cloud got bigger, white and grey. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely.”
"We saw the explosion from the hotel. There was a loud roar," said Michela Favorito, who works in a hotel near Fico Grande, on the east side of the island.
"We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us. The whole sky is full of ash, a fairly large cloud," she said.
Emergency worker Calogero Foti told RAI television: "Unfortunately one man is dead, there are a few injured, but none seriously."
Firefighters were being deployed from nearby islands and a Canadair water-bombing aircraft was also sent.
Stefano Branca, from the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, told Reuters there had been a "paroxysmal eruption" on the island, when high-pressure magma explodes from a shallow, underground reservoir. "These are events of great intensity and quite rare," he said.
Tourists are drawn to its crystal clear waters, black sand beaches and the chance to climb the 3,000ft-high summit of the volcano.
“I’ve never felt so much fear in my life,” one visitor wrote on Twitter, posting a photograph of the sides of the volcano on fire.
Another tourist wrote: “Panic and chaos among the people present on the island. Many are trying to escape into the sea or in small boats.”
Stromboli, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, is part of the Aeolian archipelago of islands, which attract sailors and celebrities during the summer months.