Three members of an Italian family died visiting a volcanic field Tuesday after an 11-year-old boy entered an off-limits area.
The boy slipped after breaching a fence surrounding the Solfatara Crater in Pozzuoli and his parents followed in an attempt to rescue their son, police said.
The boy’s father, 45, died by falling into a pit of boiling-hot mud, the Campania Civil Protection Department said, ANSA reported.
The boy’s 42-year-old mother was also sucked in.
The couple has a 7-year-old son, who survived.
“I saw a child run crying, I did not think I was facing the worst tragedy of my life, I’m a father, too,” eyewitness Diego Vitagliano told La Repubblica.
He described the scene at the site Tuesday.
“The area was fenced and the relief was immediate. A tragedy, they pulled out two bodies, then pulled us away. I continue to think about that family and that poor baby crying and asking for help,” Vitagliano said.
Pozzuoli’s mayor, Vincenzo Figliolia, said he was in “deep pain” over the tragedy, according to La Repubblica.
“I am shocked for what happened inside the Solfatara volcano,” he said. “I express my closeness from the community of Pozzuoli to the victims’ family,” he said.
The longtime-owner of a nearby bar said he had never witnessed a similar incident.
“I’ve been here for forty years and such an accident has never happened,” Armando Guerriero said.
The young survivor was reportedly brought to the bar after his family members were killed.
“We tried to calm him, of course he was very shocked,” Guerriero said. “He was asking for his family members,” he added.
The child’s grandparents were expected to retrieve their grandson from Pozzuoli, where he was being cared for by social workers and a psychologist, La Repubblica reported.
Volcanologist Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo suggested that intense rainfall in recent days could have played a role in the deaths by causing deep openings in the volcanic field’s surface.
The crater is located in the Phlegraean Fields and is frequented by local school children and tourists from around the world.
Signs in multiple languages instruct visitors to stay away from fumaroles, openings in the Earth’s crust that emit steam and gases.
Signs also prohibit visitors from climbing slopes around the field and from breaching its fences.
With News Wire Services