Family dies after falling into volcanic crater in Italy

Italy: Family of three die after falling into volcano crater near Naples

Italy: Family of three die after falling into volcano crater near Naples

An 11-year-old Italian boy and his parents have died after tumbling into a muddy, gaseous cravasse which opened up at the volcanic crater they were visiting near Naples.

When they tried to pull him to safety, the crater's base collapsed and they both fell just 1.5m (5ft).

It wasn't immediately clear if the 11-year-old and his parents were overcome by gases or were killed as the result of an explosion of super-heated mud.

The boy's 45-year-old father attempted to pull him up and was sucked into hot mud, ANSA reported.

Their seven-year-old son did not enter the crater and survived.

The Independent reported that the family is from Turin in northern Italy.

A local worker at the site, Diego Vitagliano, said the accident was the worst thing he had seen in his life.

The tragedy is said to have unfolded when the older son walked into a prohibited area at Solfatara near Naples in the country's south west.

The crater is located in the Phlegraean Fields, a sprawling constellation of ancient volcanic craters frequented by Italian school children and tourists from around the world.

It is a dormant volcano, but it still emits jets of steam that contain sulfurous fumes.

It was formed around 4,000 years ago - and last erupted in 1198.

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