On August 28, Stromboli volcano in Italy woke up a second time this summer. Tourists decided to ride a boat near the erupting volcano – but the journey turned out to be “fun”: they had to escape from the wave of pyroclastic flow. The eruption did not lead to casualties and destruction, but the tourists got really scared.

In fact, it was a really dangerous act. The pyroclastic flow is what makes composite volcanoes like Stromboli so deadly.

Boaters Get Close Look at Stromboli Island’s Volcano Eruption and they had to escape. It was the volcano’s second recent eruption and scientists warn that further eruptions could cause part of the rock face to break off into the sea and trigger a megatsunami.

The top comment of the video (translation):

  • 1st guy: n’avissiru a ppigghiari a nuautri – not that they are going to catch us up, huh? (curiously he always use the plural form, maybe referring to stones and lapillus or maybe because he’s kind of nervous, you know, you are right below an erupting volcano)
  • 2nd guy: vai Gioggio (i.e Giorgio in the sicilian speech) – go Giorgio
  • All: Mamma mia, Madonna mia – My Goodness, Holy mother
  • 3rd guy (or previous): i facci [not sure] a quella barchetta che era passata – in front of that small boat that had passed
  • 1st girl: zitto – shut up
  • 2nd girl: […] devi fare un video immediatamente è stupendo – you’ve got to take a video immediately, that’s stunning
  • 2nd girl: no raga […] è da morire – no guys, that’s to die for
  • (pyroclastic cloud reach the sea and start chasing the boat)
  • Another girl: vattene di là – get out of there
  • 2nd guy: Vai Gioggioo, ‘nni stannu pigghiannu Gioggiooo – go Giorgio, they are catching us up, Giorgioooo

A pyroclastic flow can achieve speeds between 80 and 700 km per hour, so fast it can travel uphill. You cannot outrun it. If you were one kilometer away, the flow would reach you in just five seconds. The ash in the air will scald your lungs and make it almost impossible to breathe. Temperatures in the flow can reach up to 1,000°C, so your flesh would start burning before the cloud even touches you, because it heats the air in front of it. If the cloud smothers you, you’re done for.

These terrifying avalanches have killed thousands of people in recorded history.

M. Özgür Nevres

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