Volcano Erupts and Kills One Tourist on Italy’s Stromboli Island

July 4, 2019 Updated: July 4, 2019

A popular Italian tourist destination off the northern shore of Sicily is reeling after a volcano erupted, causing a deadly rock fall that ended the life of a tourist on July 3.

The active volcano on Stromboli Island erupted multiple times, killing one hiker, injuring another tourist, and forcing about 30 more to jump into the Tyrrhenian Sea for safety.

Survivor Gianluca Giuffre told Italian news agency ANSA there was a “very violent explosion followed by a shower of glowing lapilli and lava material.”

Hot trapped magma from the volcano lit a series of fires on the western side of the island, forcing residents of Ginostra to barricade themselves in their homes or jump into the sea, ANSA reported.

Firefighting crews were requested from nearby locations to help put out the flames and a Canadair plane was also flown in to assist.

Parts of the island were blanketed in volcanic ash, according to witnesses and local officials.

“We saw the explosion from the hotel. There was a loud roar,” hospitality worker Michela Favorito told Reuters. “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.”

Tourists often climb to the 3,000 foot summit of the volcano to look down into the crater, which usually releases small puffs of molten rock into the sky. It is unknown if anyone was on the crater when the volcano erupted.

British Tourist Fiona Carter heard the blast from Panarea Island, 17 miles southwest of Stromboli Island.

“We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli,” Carter told Reuters. “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 gray. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely. Several boats set off for Stromboli.”

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) confirmed there had been a “paroxysmal” eruption on the island, causing high-pressure magma to explode from a shallow and underground reservoir.

“These are events of great intensity and quite rare,” INGV Expert Stefano Branca told Reuters.

Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and has erupted almost non-stop since the year 1932.

The island was the setting for a 1950 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and has become a favorite location in recent decades for holiday homes for the rich and famous, not unlike other islands in the Aeolian archipelago.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this article.