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Stromboli volcano eruption: One dead as tourists run and ‘jump into sea’ on Italian island

‘There was a loud roar. We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us,’ says witness

Chris Baynes
Thursday 04 July 2019 07:00 BST
Volcano erupts on Italian island of Stromboli

A volcano has erupted on a small Italian island, killing one tourist and forcing others to flee into the sea.

The victim died while hiking towards the volcano’s summit on Stromboli. They are thought to have been killed by falling stones, according to a rescue service official, who said a second person was also injured.

Two streams of lava have been creeping down the volcano’s slopes and its crater spewed out molten rocks following the eruption on Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters were tackling multiple blazes across the island.

Tourists on the Stromboli’s beaches threw jumped into the sea and residents of the village of Ginsotra barricaded themselves in their homes for safety, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Pictures posted on social media showed a huge plume of black smoke rising above Stromboli, off the north coast of Sicily.

“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 added.

Fiona Carter, a British tourist, heard the blast on the island of Panarea, some 27km (17 miles) from Stromboli.

She said: “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.

“The cloud got bigger, white and grey. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely. Several boats set off for Stromboli.”

The volcano, which stands 924m (3,031ft) above sea level, has been almost constantly active for decades but violent eruptions are rare.

Tourists often climb to the summit of the volcano and peer into its crater, where small chunks molten rock regularly blasted into the sky.

Italian coastguard sets off to evacuate tourists and locals from Italian island of Stromboli

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology there had been a "violent paroxysmal explosive sequence" in which high-pressure magma exploded from a shallow, underground reservoir.

“These are events of great intensity and quite rare,” said senior researcher Stefano Branca.

The institute's observatory picked up on two major blasts about 30 seconds apart at 4.46pm local time (2.46pm GMT) as well as about 20 minor explosions.

Stromboli has a population of about 500 and an economy based almost entirely on tourism.

The UK Foreign Office updated its travel advice for Italy following the eruption to say: “Local authorities have responded and are monitoring the situation; there are no reports of significant impact on populated areas, but local authorities are assisting those on the island who wish to leave.”

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