Boaters enjoying what was supposed to be a sunny day on the southern Sicilian coast in Italy had to flee for their lives when the Stromboli island volcano erupted on Wednesday — sending gas, rock and volcanic ash several hundred meters into the sea.
“We were sailing at a safe distance as per ordinance, when all of a sudden we heard a loud bang and saw a large black cloud spewing out of the Stromboli crater and pouring into the sea,” 19-year-old Elena Schiera from Palermo, Sicily, told CNN.
She had been on a sailing boat near the volcano when it erupted at around 10:17 local time and captured the boat’s slim escape from the pyroclastic flow with her phone.
“We immediately increased the speed of the boat to the maximum, even though, being a sailboat, the speed was still limited. Then the cloud arrived at sea and began to advance quickly towards us,” she explained.
“At that moment the panic broke out because we had the cloud a few meters away from our stern, but thanks to my father who was at the helm we managed to get away just in time because then the cloud started to rise again,” Schiera recalled.”
In her photos, she shows just how close the volcanic plume got to her family’s boat.
According to CNN, the explosion sent locals and tourists on the island running for cover as well as showers of rocks and ash rained down on the surrounding area. It also resulted in widespread fires in nearby vegetation.
As of Thursday, no injuries were reported from the eruption.
Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) reported that the cloud “reached a height exceeding 2 km” or approximately 1.2 miles.
It was the volcano’s second eruption in less than two months, with the INGV calling it an explosion of “high intensity,” Reuters reported. The Stromboli volcano previously erupted in July, killing one hiker and covering the popular tourist destination in ash.
“Luckily there were no damages to people and properties,” Nello Musumeci, president of the Sicily region wrote in a statement on Facebook after Wednesday’s explosion.
Stromboli has long been a popular hotspot for tourists, largely due to its active volcano. In 2002, an eruption occurred for the first time in 17 years. Since then, further eruptions transpired in 2003, 2007 and 2014.
The volcano’s notoriety has even translated into popular culture. It is the setting for the popular 1850 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, as well as for the 1950 Italian-American film Stromboli, which starred Academy Award winner Ingrid Bergman.