Published on : Friday, March 17, 2017
Tourists have been drawn to Etna to observe the spectacle of the active volcano erupting, only to be caught by surprise when spewing magma hit snow, causing an explosion.
Mount Etna, Europe’s largest and most active volcano, has been grouchy in recent weeks, sending up plumes of glowing red lava and ash that could be seen for miles from its peak in Sicily.
A new lava flow started from the south-eastern crater on Wednesday and was advancing with a temperature above 1000 degrees Celsius in an area covered by snow.
Authorities said about 35 tourists were in an area they had permission to enter on the volcano, when the explosion occurred midday on Thursday.
The guides who accompanied them helped bring them to safety.
The president of the Italian Alpine Club chapter in Catania, Umberto Marino, was traveling up the volcano in a snowcat when injured people started running in his direction.
According to the media reports, four people including three German tourists were hospitalized mostly with head injuries, though none of the injuries was listed as grave.
Officials at Sicily’s Catania airport announced they would reduce arrivals by half to five flights an hour, due to ash clouds.
Departures would continue as scheduled.