Survivor on Stromboli dodged falling volcanic material

Ash rises into the sky a day after a volcano erupted on the small Sicilian island of Stromboli, southern Italy, early Thursday, 4 July 2019. Civil protection authorities said a hiker was killed during the eruptions on Wednesday which sent about 30 tourists jumping into the sea for safety. (Bartolino Leone/ANSA via AP)

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MILAN (AP) — A pair of hikers found themselves trapped by flames after a volcano erupted on the Sicilian island of Stromboli and thought they had escaped to safety but only one of the men survived, a Brazilian tourist said Thursday.

Thiago Takeuti, 35, told Italian news agency ANSA that after Stromboli volcano’s violent eruption Wednesday, he and the friend he was hiking with, Massimo Imbesi, sought safety in an area flames had already passed.

“But as we ran through the rocks and lapilli, we fell down. He was breathing with more difficulty. I tried to bring him back, but there was nothing else to do,” Takeuti said.

Imbesi, a 35-year-old Sicilian, was the sole victim of the eruption, which frightened dozens of tourists who jumped into the sea for safety.

Firefighters using helicopters and motorboats continued to douse fires ignited by falling molten material, but said most were under control by Thursday afternoon.

Lipari Mayor Marco Giorgianni told ANSA that about 100 people evacuated Stromboli island after the eruption sent glowing lapilli fragments and lava spewing into the air, setting off the blazes. He temporarily banned hiking excursions.

“A part of the island covered with a thick blanket of pumice looks like a post-war scene,” he said.

Giorgianni said electricity had been restored to much of the island and work was underway to bring life back to normal.

A team of volunteers cleared volcanic material from the village of Ginostra, which can only be reached by sea on the side of the island opposite from most tourist traffic, ANSA said.

Stromboli, one of three active volcanoes in Italy, takes its name from the island on which it is located. It frequently sends up smoke and ash into the night sky, creating a beacon and serving as a natural lighthouse.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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