Survivor on Stromboli dodged falling volcanic material

Firefighters using helicopters and motorboats were continuing to douse fires ignited by a volcanic eruption on the Sicilian island of Stromboli that killed a hiker

MILAN -- A pair of hikers found themselves trapped by flames after a volcano erupted on the Sicilian island of Stromboli and thought they had escaped to safety but only one of the men survived, a Brazilian tourist said Thursday.

Thiago Takeuti, 35, told Italian news agency ANSA that after Stromboli volcano's violent eruption Wednesday, he and the friend he was hiking with, Massimo Imbesi, sought safety in an area flames had already passed.

"But as we ran through the rocks and lapilli, we fell down. He was breathing with more difficulty. I tried to bring him back, but there was nothing else to do," Takeuti said.

Imbesi, a 35-year-old Sicilian, was the sole victim of the eruption, which frightened dozens of tourists who jumped into the sea for safety.

Firefighters using helicopters and motorboats continued to douse fires ignited by falling molten material, but said most were under control by Thursday afternoon.

Lipari Mayor Marco Giorgianni told ANSA that about 100 people evacuated Stromboli island after the eruption sent glowing lapilli fragments and lava spewing into the air, setting off the blazes. He temporarily banned hiking excursions.

"A part of the island covered with a thick blanket of pumice looks like a post-war scene," he said.

Giorgianni said electricity had been restored to much of the island and work was underway to bring life back to normal.

A team of volunteers cleared volcanic material from the village of Ginostra, which can only be reached by sea on the side of the island opposite from most tourist traffic, ANSA said.