Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Three members of an Italian family died when they were sucked into a 10-foot deep volcanic crater near Naples on Tuesday.
An 11-year-old boy slipped into the hole about 11 a.m. and both parents died while trying to save him in the hot mud. Police said the area was off-limits at the Solfatara Crater in Pozzuoli, one of 40 volcanoes in the Campi Flegrei area about 7 miles west of Naples.
The boy's 45-year-old father first attempted to pull him up and was sucked into hole. Then the boy's 42-year-old mother tried to save them and she was overcome by the quicksand-like substance.
Italian reports identified them as Massimiliano Carrer, Tiziana Zaramella and their son, Lorenzo.
The boy reportedly fainted due to gas fumes before falling into the crater.
"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.
The couple's 7-year-old son didn't go into the hole and ran into a nearby bar asking for help.
"I've been here for 40 years and such an accident has never happened," Armando Guerriero, owner of the bar, said to ANSA. "We tried to calm him. Of course he was very shocked."
The family lived near Venice and is originally from Turin.
The dormant Solfatar last erupted in 1198 and has a shallow crater that emits steam with sulphurous fumes.
The ancient volcanoes are frequented by Italian school children and tourists from around the world.