A tourist has died after a volcano erupted on the Italian island of Stromboli on Wednesday, Marco Giorgianni, the mayor of neighbouring Lipari, told the Italian news agency, ANSA. The victim was reportedly in the nearby village of Ginostra.
The volcano is a popular travel destination; tourists often climb to the 924-metre summit to look at the crater which routinely spews small pieces of molten rock into the sky. It was unclear if anyone was near the crater at the time of the blast.
Emergency services were activated soon after the incident and evacuation began on the island.
Tourists, terrified when ash started rising high into the sky, threw themselves into the sea, ANSA said.
Carmelo Saia, a tourist, told Euronews that he was at the beach in Lipari, an island close to Stromboli, on holiday with his girlfriend when the volcano erupted.
"We were having lunch and all of a sudden we saw everybody turning their heads in the same direction. We saw a big cloud rising up in the sky and immediately understood it was an eruption from Stromboli. Some people panicked and left the beach but we stayed as the situation seems under control."
"We saw the explosion from the hotel. There was a loud roar," Michela Favorito, who works in a hotel on the island, told Reuters. "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," he said.
Witnesses shared their experiences of the eruption on Twitter.
Stromboli is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, and is a popular tourist destination. ANSA also reported that the volcano was spewing out red hot rocks, and new lava spouts are creeping down the volcano onto the island.
According to an Aeolian island travel website, Stromboli has been erupting since records began. The Romans called it the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean". Locals refer to the volcano as "iddu", a dialect word meaning "him".
The island was the setting for a 1950 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and, with other islands in the Aeolian archipelago, and has become a favourite location in recent decades for holiday homes for the rich and famous.