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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 19:38 GMT
Italian volcano flexes its muscles
Lava slides down the side of Stromboli into the sea
Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe
A volcano has erupted off Italy's Sicilian coast injuring at least six people and bringing chaos to the surrounding area.

A burst of gas from the tiny volcanic island which is home to the Stromboli volcano sent a mass of rock into the sea, causing a tidal wave.

I saw the sun obscured by a cloud of lava ashes and a wave which was at least 20 metres high

Eyewitness
Water overturned boats and flooded the village of Ginostra injuring at least six people, one of them seriously.

More eruptions are expected although they are not believed to pose an immediate danger to the island's few hundred inhabitants.

Scared residents were temporarily evacuated by the Italian navy as a precaution.

"I saw the sun obscured by a cloud of lava ashes and a wave which was at least 20 metres high," an eyewitness told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"There were other people on the beach, it was a miracle that the sea did not carry them away."

The eruption could be seen from neighbouring islands.

According to La Repubblica, the tidal wave started by Stromboli reached the northern coast of Sicily.

It displaced two boats being loaded with fuel causing an oil spill into the sea. The spill is said to be under control.

Tourist attraction

Situated on an island of the same name in the Lipari archipelago 60 kilometres (40 miles) north-east of Sicily, the Stromboli volcano is known for its frequent minor eruptions.

The volcano is considered to be one of the most active in Europe. Its flow of lava, which slowly slides down the mountainside into the sea, is a tourist attraction.

Vulcanologists are expected to monitor the Stromboli closely, but some predicted renewed activity a month ago.

Stromboli's activity followed the eruption of Sicily's Mount Etna two weeks ago when at least 15 people were injured and around 1,000 evacuated.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Mathew Charles
"After almost two decades of silence an explosion of gas and lava"
See also:

30 Oct 02 | Europe
25 Nov 02 | Europe
15 Mar 00 | Europe
01 Apr 00 | Science/Nature
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