Eruption Survivors Tell of Escape as Volcano Belched Rocks and Smoke

By Reuters
April 18, 2023Europe
Eruption Survivors Tell of Escape as Volcano Belched Rocks and Smoke
Volcanic ash covers the ground and trees after the Shiveluch volcano's eruption in Klyuchi village on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia on April 11, 2023. (Yury Demyanchuk/Russian Academy of Sciences' Volcanology Institute via AP)

Adventure tourists Pyotr Kirinkin and Christina Kurochkina got more than they bargained for when the volcano they were going to see suddenly erupted.

The pair were with a group of volcano scientists on their way to view the Bezymianny volcano in Russia’s extreme east Kamchatka region when it blew up in their faces.

The group formed makeshift shelters from sledges and snowmobiles as ash and rocks rained down from the eruption, hitting the ground around them.

“Volcanologists knew that the activity of Bezymianny volcano was rising. They knew that at some point there would be an eruption. Nobody knew when but there were signs that it would happen”, said Pyotr after safely making it back from the danger site.

His UGC footage shows what happened when the group were about eight kilometers (five miles) from the cone.

“The leader of our group suggested we stopped. There was a canyon ahead, here was no way forward. So we did an improvised shelter out of two sledges and waited till the peak of the eruption was over,” says Pyotr.

“The scariest thing was just the understanding that there was either be a severe rockfall or the volcano mass would come down burning everything on its track”, he says, describing a phenomenon known as a pyroclastic flow.

Companion Christina Kurochkina realized just how perilous it was when one of the scientists explained how a pyroclastic flow would kill them instantly.

Nobody was harmed in the end. The group waited for the dust cloud to clear and returned to the base camp unharmed.

Shiveluch, one of Russia’s most active volcanoes, first began erupting just after midnight on April 11 and at its peak, six hours later, sent out an ash cloud over an area of 108,000 square kilometers (41,700 square miles). It sent a 10-kilometer-high (6-mile) plume of ash into the sky, and a hazard warning remains in place for airlines. A sequence of earthquakes followed.

Kamchatka volcanic ash
Volcanic ash covers the ground in Kozyrevsk, Ust-Kamchatsky district after the Shiveluch volcano’s eruption on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russian far east in a photo released on April 11, 2023. (The Head of the Ust-Kamchatsky municipal district Oleg Bondarenko via AP)
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