Desperate escape from volcano’s fury
A VOLCANO on the Italian island of Stromboli has erupted, sending a massive cloud of smoke and ash more than a kilometre into the sky - almost two months after a similar explosion killed a hiker there, according to reports.
The "high intensity" blast in southern Italy off the Sicilian coast was recorded just after noon on Wednesday, local time, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology. No casualties were reported, according to the New York Post.
The explosion, which was classified as a "paroxysmal event", produced a pyroclastic flow - a fast-moving mixture of gas, rock and volcanic ash that stretched several hundred metres into the sea, according to CNN.
In the July eruption, the volcano released hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion that killed the 35-year-old hiker, Massimo Imes, and covered the popular tourist destination in ash.
Video footage from Wednesday showed a group of Italians fleeing the tiny island in panic as gigantic clouds of ash rolled across the sea, The Telegraph reported.
On another small vessel, a British family watched as the eruption took place.
"Wow! The whole mountain is shaking!" a man says. "Oh my goodness, that is really bad, guys."
Nicole Bremner, an Australian living in England, was on a boat off Stromboli when the eruption occurred.
"We were just at Stromboli volcano watching the small eruptions. We left and then this giant eruption happened!" she wrote in social media, adding the smoke and ash had left "a metallic taste in our mouths."
Elena Schiera, 19, of Palermo, Sicily, was on a sailboat during the eruption.
"We were sailing at a safe distance as per ordinance when all of a sudden we heard a loud bang and saw a large black cloud spewing out of the Stromboli crater and pouring into the sea," she told CNN.
"We immediately increased the speed of the boat to the maximum,even though, being a sailboat, the speed was still limited. Then the cloud arrived at sea and began to advance quickly towards us.
"At that moment the panic broke out because we had the cloud a few metres away from our stern, but thanks to my father who was at the helm, we managed to get away just in time because then the cloud started to rise again."
Experts believe the volcano on Stromboli, part of the Aeolian archipelago, has been in nearly continuous eruption for at least 2000 years, with incandescent lava, ash and volcanic rock regularly spewing from its cone.
"The situation is under control, but all the same we have activated the normal civil protection procedures," said Marco Giorgianni, the mayor of Lipari, the most populated of the area's islands.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission