Stromboli Volcano Off the Coast of Sicily Erupts

The Stromboli volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on earth, erupted on Wednesday on the Italian island of Stromboli, off the coast of Sicily, killing one person and injuring others.

Molten lava flowed down the flanks of the volcano, causing bushes, trees and grass to catch fire.

Firefighters were deployed to extinguish the fires, and a helicopter was dispatched to rescue hikers, according to the Vigili del Fuoco, the Italian fire and rescue service.

The victim is a male hiker who was hit by a falling stone.

The explosion caused tourists to panic, with some throwing themselves into the sea, while others jumped frantically into boats to evacuate the island; residents barricaded themselves into their homes. 

The two primary eruptions occurred around 4:46 p.m., local time, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported. The eruptions were preceded by lava spills.

The institute identified about 20 minor explosive events, in addition to the major explosions. A volcanologist with the institute said on Twitter that the initial explosion was the largest since at least 2007.

Italy has three main active volcanoes: Etna in Sicily, Vesuvius near Naples and Stromboli. Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932.

Below are photos of the spectacular Stromboli eruption.