Young boy and parents die after falling into 10-foot volcanic crater in Naples

An 11-year-old boy is said to have fainted and fallen into the crater after entering a prohibited area. His parents attempted to save him but the crater collapsed

Rescue workers block off Solfatara di Pozzuoli. (Photo: The Guardian)
Rescue workers block off Solfatara di Pozzuoli. (Photo: The Guardian)

An 11-year-old boy and his parents have died after falling into a volcanic crater near Naples, Italy.

Italian press reports said that the boy walked into a prohibited area at Solfatara di Pozzuoli, one of 40 volcanoes in the Campi Flegrei area west of Naples.

It is believed to have fainted due to the gas fumes emitted before falling into the crater.

The boy’s parents, identified as Massimiliano Carrer, 45, and Tiziana Zaramella, 42, from the town of Meolo near Venice, tried to save their son, but the crater collapsed.

Their other child, aged seven, left the scene in search of help and therefore survived the incident.

The family, originally from Turin but living near Venice, were on a visit to the tourist site. Their bodies were recovered from the three-metre (10ft) crater by fire-fighters.

“Either there was a small explosion, or the ground simply gave way from their weight, and they fell into this hole,” national fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari said. Fire-fighters said they appeared to have died from asphyxia, possibly because of hot gases emanating from the ground.

The younger boy ran into a bar at the entrance of the crater, where he was comforted by staff for several hours.

Armando Guerriero, the bar’s owner, said: “He saw his parents and brother falling into the crater; he didn’t know whether they were alive or dead. He was crying and calling his mother’s name. In the 40 years that I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The dormant Solfatara, which last erupted in 1198, has a shallow crater and emits steam with sulphurous fumes. It is located in the Campi Flegrei, a constellation of ancient volcanic craters.

Signs around the crater in multiple languages warn of the danger of burning from high soil temperatures and steam up to 160 degrees celcius. Visitors are told to steer clear of fumaroles, openings in the Earth’s crust, which emit gases and steam and not to climb the slopes or breach the fences.

The site is managed by a private company and is open all year round to visitors, who can go on a guided tour or explore it by themselves if they choose to.

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