A BBC film crew had a lucky escape recently when Italy’s Mount Etna suddenly erupted while they were working close to the crater.
The crew, along with dozens of tourists who were also on the volcano in Sicily when it went off, had to run for their lives. Camera operator Rachel Price kept the video rolling throughout the ordeal, capturing some hair-raising footage (below) in the process.
With scalding hot rocks raining down on everyone as they fled, it’s no surprise there were some injuries, though fortunately no one was killed in the incident.
In a report describing the terrifying experience, BBC science correspondent Rebecca Morelle said, “I truly thought that we were going to die.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 16, 2017
Morelle and her team arrived at Etna last week to examine a lava flow that’d recently appeared as “a giant stream of rock, glowing red … oozing down the slopes.” They were led by a scientist from Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, though at that time there was no indication of what was about to happen.
“All of a sudden there was a first explosion that went up of steam,” Morelle explains in a video on the BBC site. “That didn’t seem too bad but it was really the second explosion that threw up all of those boiling rocks. You have to remember that magma is more than 1,000 degrees Celsius (about 1,830 degrees Fahrenheit). Boulders going up, steam going up, too, and everyone just started to run.”
She said it was hard to see where she was going “because of this steam in front of you, but luckily we managed to make it to a vehicle that was able to take us safely back down the mountain.”
The injuries she saw on others were mostly cuts, burns, and some bruises, though a guide reportedly dislocated his shoulder as he fled. As for the BBC crew, camera operator Price revealed a large hole burned into her jacket by a lump of hot rock.
— Rebecca Morelle (@BBCMorelle) March 16, 2017
“We were extremely lucky,” Morelle said. “A volcanologist who was with us said it one of the most dangerous incidents he’d seen in his 30-year career in studying Mount Etna, so we were lucky to get out.”
It’s fair to say that most people would likely steer well clear of a volcano if it started to show signs of life, though some, like the members of the BBC science team, clearly can’t resist taking a closer look — though at the time they obviously didn’t expect what was coming.
Dutch photographer Fred Kamphues is also drawn to the world’s natural wonders, rumbling volcanoes among them. You can find out more about him and enjoy some of his stunning work in a Digital Trends interview here.