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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Landlady died after volcano fall
Azores map
A pub landlady died after falling into a volcanic pool full of boiling liquid in the Azores, an inquest heard.

Gillian Blann, 58, from Edge Hill, Warwickshire, stepped back and fell into the pool as she tried to take a picture of her husband John.

Mrs Blann, who had been on a sight-seeing trip, suffered second degree burns to 90% of her body and died later from sepsis.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded at an inquest on Thursday.

The couple, who were licensees of the Castle Inn in Edge Hill, took the trip because Mr Blann had recently undergone a heart bypass, the inquest at Leamington Spa Town Hall was told.

Suddenly we were engulfed by a large sulphur cloud. I could not see anything and then I heard my wife shout 'John'
John Blann, husband

A written statement from the 64-year-old, who was at the inquest, was read out by coroner Michael Coker.

On 9 April last year the couple were four days into a holiday in Ponta Delgada when they joined an excursion into the Furnas mountain region.

He explained he had been posing for a holiday picture when his wife slipped backwards into one of the boiling calderas, or hot pools.

"The mountain region was volcanic with many unguarded water geysers and bubbling pools of lava. The bubbling lava was extremely hot in temperature," he said.

"We were standing near to three or four bubbling pools. I was stood to the side of one and my wife Gillian was photographing me. Suddenly we were engulfed by a large sulphur cloud. I could not see anything and then I heard my wife shout 'John'.

Volcanic pool in Furnas mountain region (Picture - Barbara Decker)
Mrs Blann fell into the volcanic pool in the Furnas mountain region

"When the cloud lifted a few seconds later, I found my wife clinging onto the side of one of the volcanic pools. She was fully immersed and we pulled her out. She was talking quite coherently and had her faculties."

Mr Blann said that, although his wife was badly burnt, he did not think at that time that her injuries were life threatening.

He added: "Bottles of cold water were poured over my wife to take the stinging out of the burns."

Two firefighters gave Mrs Blann first aid before she was taken to a small hospital further down the mountain and then air-lifted to the burns unit of the San Jose Hospital in Lisbon.

Mr Blann said: "She was still comprehensive and talking to me. She told me off for staring at her. By now I was realising that I may lose my wife."

Court documents from Portugal read out by the coroner said there was no indication of foul play and that Mrs Blann's death was purely accidental. Mr Coker said he agreed with the Portuguese authorities.


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