Volcano on small Italian island of Stromboli unexpectedly erupts, killing one

Elinor Aspegren
Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932.
Smoke billows from the volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The news agency ANSA says that some 30 tourists jumped into the sea out of fear after a series of volcano erupted on the Sicilian island of Stromboli. Civil protection authorities said a hiker was confirmed killed by the eruptions Wednesday. (ANSA VIA AP) ORG XMIT: ROM104

A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted Wednesday, releasing hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion, killing one person and covering the popular tourist destination in ash, local officials said.

Italian news agency ANSA says eruptions on the Sicilian island, which is south of Italy, sent about 30 tourists jumping into the sea for safety.

The man killed was a 35-year-old from Messina in Sicily who was walking with a Brazilian companion, Italian news agency RAI reported. 

The unexpected eruption started fires on the western side of the small Mediterranean island. Fire crews were called in from nearby locations.

Witness Gianluca Giuffre described to ANSA "a very violent explosion followed by a shower of glowing lapilli and lava material."

He says people in the town of Ginostra barricaded themselves in houses or threw themselves into the sea.

Tourists often climb to the 3,000-foot summit of the volcano and peer into its crater, with small puffs of molten rock regularly blasted into the sky, according to Oregon State University's Volcano Database.

Per the website, Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932.

The island was the setting for a 1950 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and, with other islands in the Aeolian archipelago, has become a favorite location in recent decades for holiday homes for the rich and famous.

Follow Elinor Aspegren on Twitter: @elinoraspegren. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Volcano on small Italian island of Stromboli unexpectedly erupts, killing one