Tourists flee Stromboli volcano eruption

Smoking volcano on the island of Stromboli.

One person has died and many tourists have fled in terror after a volcanic eruption on the Italian island of Stromboli yesterday (3 July).

Falling stones from the eruption struck a 35-year-old hiker from Sicily, who sadly died from his injuries; his Brazilian companion was found by fire and rescue teams suffering from shock and dehydration. The Navy is currently preparing for a potential mass evacuation – 70 people have been evacuated already, while many holidaymakers reportedly ran into the sea after they saw smoke and ash rising from the volcano, which is one of the most active on the planet.

Two eruptions took place one after the other at approximately 4:46 p.m. local time, a few minutes after a sizeable lava spill. The first of the explosions was, according to volcanologist Boris Benhcke, the biggest since 2007, if not before.

A popular tourist destination, many overseas visitors were on Stromboli when the eruptions occurred. One British holidaymaker was quoted by BBC News as saying: “We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli. Everyone was in shock. Then red-hot lava started running down the mountain towards the little village of Ginostra.”

While the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office does not currently advise against travel to Italy or Stromboli, its travel advice was updated in the wake of the eruptions: “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.”

Educational resource Travel Insurance Explained, meanwhile, stated: “Holidaymakers currently near the eruption, who wish to move to alternative accommodation, should check their travel insurance for force majeure cover. Whilst this will not cover for curtailment ... it will cover costs associated with moving to alternative accommodation if necessary. The terms will differ between policies, so check the policy wording. Those that are yet to travel should be aware that travel insurance will not cover disinclination to travel. Tour operators and travel agents may be able to alter the booking dates or location, so holidaymakers who have booked through a company should speak to them directly.”