Volcanic rocks and steam injured at least 10 people, including tourists and scientists, following an explosion on Sicily's Mount Etna Thursday, witnesses and media reported, per the AP. Tourists had been drawn to Etna to observe the spectacle of the active volcano erupting, only to be caught by surprise when spewing magma hit snow, causing a blast. One witness says he was traveling up the volcano when injured people started running in his direction. "The material thrown into the air fell back down, striking the heads and bodies of people who were closest," the Catania Today website quoted him as saying. Italian news agency ANSA reported six people were hospitalized, mostly with head injuries, though none gravely.
Among those present on the mountain at the time of the midday explosion were scientists from Italy's volcanology institute. The institute said its staff were among the injured, but did not offer details. The BBC's Rebecca Morelle also was on the mountain, and described the experience in a series of tweets. "Running down a mountain pelted by rocks, dodging burning boulders and boiling steam - not an experience I ever ever want to repeat," she wrote. The BBC crew was shaken, but physically OK, having suffered cuts, bruises and burns, she added. Mount Etna has been active for the past two days, creating a visual spectacle as it spews lava and ash into the air. A new lava flow started from the southeastern crater on Wednesday.