The Unbelievable Stories of People Falling into Volcanoes

Accidents happen; they’re an inevitable part of life. You bump into things, trip over nothing then slip and fall into a…volcano? There have been several instances where people got a little too close to nature and have wound up staring a lava filled crater straight in the face. And even the dormant ones are still dangerous since their craters can be thousands of feet deep. Luckily, some of these individuals lived to see another day and talk about it. Below are five people who were unlucky enough to fall in a volcano.

1. Maasai Porter

The date was August 21, 2007 when a local porter was exploring an active volcano along with another group of people, when he fell into a lava-filled crevice. His arms and legs were badly burnt but he managed to survive. If it wasn’t for the volcano’s unusual lava, then things could have been so much worse. The lava never goes above 510 degrees Celsius or 950 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it very cool by volcanoes standards. And the lava’s sludge-like texture made it possible for the man to stand on it and climb out.

2. Cecilia Cheng Siu-Yan

In 2007, a 33-year-old woman named Cecilia Cheng Siu-Yan met her end in the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was climbing atop the towering volcano when she accidentally got stuck on the ledge on the inside of the crater. As she tried to get out, Siu-Yan slipped and fell further into the volcano’s massive crater which, although dormant, had a lava lake inside it. A search and rescue team were quickly deployed and found that she had not made it.

3. The Family

In September 2017, a family of four, a couple and their two sons, visited the Solfatara, a sulfurous volcanic crater near Pozzuoli, Italy. The older boy, aged 11, slipped and fell into a hole that had suddenly cracked beneath his feet. His distraught parents tried to save him, but they too fell into the hole. Their seven-year-old son managed to scramble out of the crater and alert nearby people of the situation, but by that time, it was too late. 

4. Bali Tourist

Sometime in 2018, a British firefighter named John Conway was hiking along Mount Batur when he noticed another tourist suddenly plunge into the volcano’s crater. His firefighter instincts kicked in and John enlisted the help of a group of nearby people with whom he formed a human chain, linking arm-to-arm, in order to rescue the woman. Their improv rescue attempt was successful and the unnamed woman was brought back to safety. He also used his training to keep her conscious until help arrived.

5. John Slemp

While hiking the rim of the crater of Mount St. Helens in Washington State, John Slemp, a 52-year-old man from Oregon, fell 1,500 feet into the volcano. His fall was temporarily halted by a snowbank but then crumbled, and he slid another 150 feet below. Slemp happened to be hiking with his son and a friend who watched the entire ordeal in horrifying real time. The two quickly reached out for help and in no time, a team with a helicopter pulled Slemp out of the volcano. Miraculously, Slemp survived that crazy descent with no major injuries.

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