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Mount Vesuvius volcano crater
Mount VesuviusVia Wikimedia Commons

US tourist falls into active volcano while trying to take a selfie

Pompeii? More like Pomslay

Legendary film director Werner Herzog teetered on the edges of active volcanoes for his 2016 film Into the Inferno, seeking to “understand man’s relationship with one of nature’s most violent wonders”. Now, six years later, an American man has gone one step further, plunging down into the crater of Mount Vesuvius in search of… a selfie.

Of course, the 23-year-old tourist wasn’t supposed to come face to face with the “engulfing doom” of an active volcano (the last time Vesuvius erupted was in 1944, and it’s still considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world). He was actually visiting the 1,277-metre summit with his family when he veered along an out-of-bounds track, away from the usual tourist trail.

According to local press, he was trying to take a photo in front of breathtaking views of the Naples coast when his holiday snap almost became an inadvertent tragedy selfie, as his phone slipped out of his hand and tumbled into the crater. He then descended into the mouth of the volcano (we shouldn’t need to say this, but: don’t) in an attempt to retrieve it, and fell several metres after losing his balance.

Pictures of the aftermath – showing nasty cuts and grazes along his back and arms – have been shared on social media, but the tourist’s pride arguably took a bigger hit. To rescue him, Vesuvius’s guides had to abseil into the crater, after spotting him from the other side of the volcano with binoculars.

“Four volcanological guides set in motion instantly and, arriving on site, one of them was lowered with a rope for about 15 metres to allow them to secure the inexperienced tourist,” says Paolo Cappelli, president of the Presidio Permanente Vesuvio, a base for guides at the top of the volcano (via the Independent). “He was very lucky; if he kept going, he would have plunged 300 metres into the crater.”

A mountain rescue helicopter was also dispatched, and police attended the scene, taking the boy and his three family members in after the successful rescue mission. They now face charges for the invasion of public land, having reportedly travelled to the summit without a ticket, and bypassed clear signposts that marked the forbidden path.