The parents of an 11-year-old boy who fell into an Italian volcanic crater died trying to save him.
Three people died after they fell into boiling mud in a volcanic crater in Pozzuoli, an Italian city not far from Naples.
The family was visiting Solfatara, a shallow volcanic crater popular with tourists, on Tuesday when the boy wandered into a restricted area and slipped into a nearly 10-foot-deep pit, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. His parents fell into the hole trying to save him.
Another family member, a 7-year-old boy, was nearby and did not walk beyond the fenced-off area, authorities said. He was placed in the custody of social workers until his grandparents arrived.
The victims, 42-year-old Tiziana Zaramella, 45-year-old Massimiliano Carrer and their son Lorenzo were visiting from Meolo, a town in northern Italy more than 400 miles away.
Pictures showed emergency workers carrying wooden coffins toward the victims’ bodies, which lay on the ground several feet from the pit.
It was not clear whether they were killed because of the hot mud or whether they were overcome by the sulfurous fumes that the dormant volcano emits. Heavy rains may have played a role in creating openings on the crater’s surface.
The Solfatara crater is part of the Phlegraean Fields, locally known as Campi Flegrei (which means “burning fields”), a supervolcano dotted with several ancient volcanic craters and located west of Naples.
Though the Solfatara site is privately owned, geologists constantly monitor the area’s temperatures and gases. Signs in multiple languages warn tourists of boiling temperatures and steam of up to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
Campi Flegrei’s last eruption occurred over the course of a week in 1538, the largest in European history. Scientists said last year that the volcano was nearing a crucial point and could erupt again.