Eruptions from a volcano on the Sicilian island of Stromboli sent about 30 tourists jumping into the sea for safety Wednesday, Italian news agency ANSA reported. Officials said a hiker was killed during the eruptions Wednesday. Molten material from the volcano ignited a series of fires.
"We saw the explosion from the hotel," a nearby hotel worker told Reuters news agency. "There was a loud roar ... 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."
Italy has three main active volcanoes: Etna on Sicily, Vesuvius near Naples and Stromboli, which shares the name of the small Sicilian island. Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, according to Geology.com, and has almost been erupting continuously since 1932.
Witness Gianluca Giuffre told ANSA that a "very violent explosion followed by a shower of glowing lapilli and lava material."
He said people in the town of Ginostra barricaded themselves in houses or threw themselves into the sea.
Fire crews have been called in from surrounding areas, according to Reuters. Tourists often climb the 3,000-foot summit of the volcano and peer into its crater as small puffs of molten rock regularly blasted into the sky, the news agency reported.