A volcano on the
Navy boats were sent to the island for a potential mass evacuation as the eruption continued to send clouds of ash into the night sky. Around 70 tourists and locals have already fled.
The volcano is one of Europe’s most-active and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932, but yesterday’s two explosions were especially powerful.
‘It was like being in hell because of the rain of fire coming from the sky,’ local priest Giovanni Longo said.
The dead man, a hiker aged 35 from Sicily, was hit by falling rocks as he climbed the volcano with a Brazilian companion, who was found shocked and dehydrated by rescuers.
‘Unfortunately one man is dead, there are a few injured, but none seriously,’ rescue worker Calogero Foti said.
The twin eruptions, which came at 2.46pm local time, were described as some of the biggest ever recorded on the island and were followed by lava spewing from ‘all the active mouths of the crater’, officials from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said.
A plume of smoke and ash billowed more than a mile into the sky.
Tourists reportedly fled from their hotels and a large cloud of ash swept over the island of Stromboli on Wednesday
Ash rises into the sky after a volcano eruption on the small Mediterranean island of Stromboli, Italy today
The Stromboli volcano on the island of the same name, off the coast of Sicily, erupted on Wednesday afternoon
One witness described the eruption on Twitter as ‘sudden and violent’, adding that tourists were diving into the sea to avoid lava
Amid the terror of the blasts, around 30 tourists threw themselves into the sea for safety following the eruption, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency.
Holidaymaker Alana Elliot, 31, from Bethnal Green, east London, was relaxing on the beach on a neighbouring island when she heard a thunderous boom and saw a ‘big mushroom cloud which looked like a nuke’ in the sky.
‘Then we heard a really loud boom as though thunder and lightning had struck right next to us and saw people running along the beach,’ she said.
‘You can see Stromboli from the bay and there was a big mushroom cloud erupting – it looked like a nuke.
‘A barman ran down and was speaking Italian to us. We thought he was saying “Be calm, it’s OK” but actually he was saying “Get out of here – but be calm”.
‘Staff were collecting our beach chairs and instead of putting them in the usual spot they were grabbing them and throwing them to one side before running away.
‘We realised it was a big deal when the locals started to freak out and were running for their lives. There were 20 other people on the beach.’
Lawyer Alana, originally from Melbourne, Australia, and who was with her fiancé Alex Barclay, 30, and future bridesmaid Charlotte Lewis, 28, described the terror of running back to their hotel, fearing further tremors could cause a rockfall.
She added: ‘We thought, “We will be OK when we get back to our hotel”.
‘But we are in a mountainous area so running back we were concerned about potential tremors which could cause rocks to fall.
‘We are worried that people may have died because there are tours which go around Stromboli, we were planning on going on it today but decided to do it tomorrow.
‘We were also told people were getting boats out of the port because they feared a tidal wave could form which would destroy them, there are expensive superyachts in the area.’
According to reports, the island of Stromboli was hit by a set of violent volcano eruptions spurring beach tourists to run into the sea
Fires are pictured on Stromboli island’s west side after the eruption today, which killed one person and injured another
The explosion occurred just before 5pm and was described by one hotel worker, who heard a ‘loud roar’
Fiona Carter, a British tourist on neighbouring island Panarea, said: ‘There was a loud boom and a huge plume of white and grey smoke rose up from Stromboli. The locals were clearly shocked. The cloud became a very big mushroom cloud. Then we saw streams of red-hot lava running towards the small village of Ginostra.
‘The cloud continues to spread across the sky and Stromboli has disappeared from view. Highly unusual and huge explosion according to the locals.’
Hotel worker Michela Favorito described a ‘loud roar’ when the eruptions happened. ‘We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us. The whole sky is full of ash,’ she said.
Student Luca Mariani, 14, from Rome, filmed the moment the smoke cloud towered over the island.
Luca, who was sailing with his family in the Mediterranean Sea at the time of the eruption, said: ‘I had never seen something like this. I didn’t know whether to be scared or excited.’
The eruption also sparked bushfires on the island, which firefighting planes could not extinguish because of the dense clouds of smoke and ash.
‘The cloud got bigger, white and grey. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely,’ British tourist Fiona Carter said
The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) confirmed there was an unexpected explosion on the small Mediterranean island
The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology expert Stefano Branca said there had been a ‘paroxysmal eruption’ on the island of Stromboli today
The UK Foreign Office changed its travel advice for Italy, saying: ‘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; if you’re in the area, you should follow the advice of local authorities.’
Five-square-mile Stromboli has a population of around 500 and its economy is based almost entirely on tourism – much related to the volcano.
Known as The Lighthouse Of The Mediterranean, it stands 3,000ft above sea level, and is often busy with tour groups who can peer into its crater.
Yesterday’s eruptions were categorised as a ‘paroxysmal eruption’ by expert Stefano Branca, who explained it was when high-pressure magma explodes from a shallow, underground reservoir.
‘These are events of great intensity and quite rare,’ he said.
A previous massive eruption in December 2002 prompted a tidal wave after magma from a particularly violent eruption cascaded into the sea. Six people were injured.
Piers, boats and some buildings were swept away.
‘It’s been a long time since we had an eruption of this magnitude,’ former local councillor Gianluca Giuffre said. ‘My experience and of those who have been living here for generations leads us to believe that the situation will calm down again but we must be cautious.’
The island, which was made famous in the 1950 film of the same name by Roberto Rossellini, starring Ingrid Bergman, is part of the seven-island Eolian Archipelago just off Sicily in southern Italy.