American Tourist Rescued After Falling Into Mount Vesuvius Crater

Using a long rope, volcano guides pulled the man to safety

The crater of Mount Vesuvius  Pastorius via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Earlier this month, guides rescued a traveler who had fallen into the crater of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius volcano after trying to retrieve his phone.

The man, a 23-year-old Baltimore resident, had been hiking with several others on an unauthorized trail, report CNN’s Livia Borghese and Sana Noor Haq. The path was clearly marked as off-limits, with signs warning tourists of danger.

But the hikers disregarded the signs because they did not purchase entrance tickets, says Paolo Cappelli, who leads a group of guides on the volcano, in a statement.

When the group reached the top of the 4,000-foot volcano, famous for the deadly 79 C.E. eruption that blanketed Pompeii and neighboring towns in ash and rock, the man pulled out his phone to snap a selfie, per NBC News’ Claudio Lavanga, Caroline Radnofsky and Marlene Lenthang. But then his phone fell into the crater; trying to retrieve it, he slipped and fell into the crater, too.

“He managed to stop his fall, but at that point he was stuck,” Cappelli tells NBC News.

A team of guides on the other side of the crater saw the incident through binoculars. Four of them rushed to the man’s aid; with the help of a long rope, one of the guides rappelled down about 50 feet into the crater to retrieve him, reports the Italian newspaper Il Mattino. Gennaro Lametta, an Italian tourism official, wrote in a Facebook post that the man was unconscious.

The Baltimore man was hiking on unauthorized trails at the popular tourist destination. Pixabay

"He was very lucky,” Cappelli tells NBC News. “If he kept going, he would have plunged 300 meters [nearly 1,000 feet] into the crater.” 

Paramedics treated the man in an ambulance lower down on the mountain, but he refused to go to a hospital, per CNN. Police took him into custody, though it’s not yet clear what charges he may face.

The man’s family has not responded to interview requests from media outlets.

Mount Vesuvius is located along the Gulf of Naples in southwestern Italy. Its crater, formed during its last eruption in 1944, spans 2,000 feet across and 1,000 feet deep. Today, Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe. Though its last major eruption occurred in 1631, an eruption today would be devastating, as over two million people live nearby. 

Meanwhile, archaeologists continue to unearth and study artifacts from Pompeii, which volcanic rock and ash preserved for centuries. Just in the last few years, they’ve discovered the remains of a female tortoise and her egg, as well as detailed frescoeshorses and human remains.

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