Tragedy hits Italian city after deaths during family holiday

By Travel at 60

Only the seven-year-old survived

A family holiday to the beautiful city of Naples has turned into a tragedy after an 11-year-old boy fell into a 1,000 degrees Celsius volcanic crater. When his parents tried to save him, the boy, his father, 45, and his mother, 42, all died.

The 11-year-old boy is thought to have wandered into a prohibited area at popular tourist attraction Solfatara di Pozzuoli where he fainted due to gas fumes before falling into a 10-feet-deep crater, according to The Guardian. His parents climbed in after to try and save him but died in the process.

Their other child, aged seven, didn’t venture into the restricted area and ran to a nearby bar for help.

The bar’s owner, Armando Guerriero, said the boy saw his brother and parents falling into the crater.

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"He didn’t know whether they were alive or dead. He was crying and calling his mother’s name,” Guerriero said. “In the 40 years that I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The volcano hasn’t erupted for hundreds of years but has shallow craters that emit dangerous sulphurous fumes as well as steam. It’s not yet clear whether the family were killed from sulphuric acid inhalation or the hot lava.

Their bodies were retrieved a short time later before being placed in body bags and being taken away by an ambulance.

The family were visiting the site on holiday from Meolo, a town near Venice and the surviving child is being looked after by his grandparents.

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According to science website IFLscience, while the volcano is technically dormant, an active magnetic system sits right underneath the surface, superheating groundwater, which then erupts out of vents along with sulphuric acid.

It’s important to stay in the safety areas of all tourist attractions and the dangers of volcanos cannot be underestimated.

Some travellers have commented in the past about the potential safety risks the volcanic park poses, raising concerns over the lack of security at the park's Phlegrean Fields.

A chilling story from 2013 on the travel blog Safe and Healthy Travel comments on the safety of the area. 

"There were no safety measures at all," it reads. "I thought that was a bit sad. Especially because the heat is exstreem [sic] at some points and you don’t even want to think about it when a child falls, or somebody, into those fumeroles.

"There was a small lake, no fences placed also. And last … there was no guard to check if everybody stayed in a safe distance of the heat and also the water."

Travel at 60
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