Three family members visiting a steamy volcanic field near Naples have died after an 11-year-old boy entered an off-limits area and his parents followed to try to rescue him.
Solfatara of Pozzuoli is a popular tourist attraction and one of a number of volcanoes to the west of Naples.
Their 11-year-old son ran through a safety barrier and went onto an unstable portion of the crater that is made of crumbling quicksand.
"Either there was a small explosion, or the ground simply gave way from their weight, and they fell into this hole", national fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari said.
It was reported that the family are from Turin.
"I was at the Solfatara for work, along with other visitors we realised that something had happened and we approached the crater - still confessed the witness - I did not imagine what I would see".
The dormant Solfatar last erupted in 1198 and has a shallow crater that emits steam with sulphurous fumes. It was a tragedy; they pulled out two bodies, then pulled us away. "I continue to think about that family and that poor baby crying and asking for help", Vitagliano continued.
"I've been here for forty years and such an accident has never happened", Armando Guerriero, owner of a nearby bar located near the entrance to the volcano, told ANSA.
Solfatara is in the Campi Flegrei, a large volcanic area made up of 24 craters.
The volcanic fields are scorching hot just inches below the surface of the ground.