Mount Etna, Europe’s largest and most active volcano, has been spewing red-hot molten rock and ash for the past few weeks. And today, an unexpected eruption from the Sicilian volcano injured at least 10 people, according to local media.
The explosion was recorded in a harrowing video by BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle and camerawoman Rachel Price, who were on the scene to film the volcano.
“Running down a mountain pelted by rocks, dodging burning boulders and boiling steam — not an experience I ever ever want to repeat,” Morelle wrote in another tweet. Indeed, Morelle and the other visitors were lucky. None of the people who were injured are in critical condition, according to local authorities. Most suffered head injuries and burns. In fact, the magma spewing out of a volcano is scorching hot. One rock burned through Price’s coat.
The explosion, which happened almost at 9,000 feet, occurred because snow was heated by scorching lava, causing the water’s near-instantaneous evaporation, resulting in the explosion of steam, ash, and rocks, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. This is called a phreatic eruption.
The volcano has threatened tourists and residents before. A particularly strong eruption in 1669 killed thousands of people. Another one in 1928 destroyed an entire town. And in 1981, lava flows destroyed 12,350 acres of vineyards and woods, as well as homes, railroad tracks, and highways, according to The New York Times.
Today’s eruption could have been much worse, but fortunately no one was injured badly. That scary BBC video is a testament to nature’s fury.