Couple, son killed at volcanic crater near Naples

Family of three dies after falling into volcanic crater in Italy

Three family members including an 11-year-old boy have died after falling into a volcanic crater in Italy.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene, but were unable to save the family. The crater was closed to the public after the tragedy, which is being investigated by police.

Italy's fire brigade said it pulled three dead bodies from a shallow hole in a section of the crater at the Solfatara volcano, which was surrounded by a wooden fence meant to keep tourists out.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed. It's unclear what killed them, but the leading theories are gas fumes or burns. Then the boy's 42-year-old mother tried to save them and she was overcome by the quicksand-like substance.

Italian press reports said the boy walked into a prohibited area at Solfatara di Pozzuoli, one of 40 volcanoes in the Campi Flegrei area west of Naples.

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A local worker who was near the accident, Diego Vitagliano, told the BBC that it was "the worst thing he had seen in his life". They have determined that the fields rose by about 30 centimeters (12 inches) over a decade.

Pozzuoli's mayor, Vincenzo Figliolia, said he was in "deep pain" over the tragedy, according to La Repubblica. "I express my closeness from the community of Pozzuoli to the victims' family", he said.

Signs around the crater in multiple languages warn of the danger of burning from high soil temperatures and steam up to 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit.) Visitors are told to stay clear of fumaroles, openings in the Earth's crust that emit steam and gases, and not to climb the slopes or breach the fences.

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

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