ROME – A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted Wednesday, releasing hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion, killing one person and enveloping the popular tourist destination in ash, witnesses and local officials said.
The one fatality, believed to be a tourist, was killed by falling stones during a hike, a rescue service official said. A second person was injured.
Italian news agency ANSA says the blast sent about 30 tourists jumping into the sea for safety.
The unexpected eruption started fires on the western side of the small Mediterranean island, which lies north of Sicily, off the toe of Italy. Fire crews were being called in from nearby locations and a Canadair plane was already in action.
“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 told Reuters.