WATCH: Mt. Etna eruption chases sightseers off the mountain

(KY3)
Published: Mar. 17, 2017 at 11:32 AM CDT
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A lucky escape for tourists on Italy’s Mount Etna when the active volcano suddenly burst to life right in front of them.

A British news crew was rolling when it happened and captured the heart stopping explosion Thursday.

It caught them all by surprise.

Italy's Mount Etna exploding in steam and molten rock.

It rained down on 35 terrified tourists, their guides, and a BBC News crew – with a camera rolling.

"We really were running for our lives. All the time you're just being pelted with these rocks, hoping one of them isn't gonna hit your head or a large one gets close to you," said BBC Journalist Rebecca Morelle.

The explosion was also captured on research cameras miles away.Etna's red hot lava nearly 1,800 degrees even visible from space.

Italian scientists say the lava flow hit a field of snow, superheating the water and causing an explosion.

"When we got here yesterday and heard that Etna was erupting I thought this is fantastic, this is a lifetime's ambition to see a bit of geology. I wasn't expecting to get this close an encounter," added Morelle.

Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Drone footage shows it coming back to life last month.

It’s a popular spot for scientists, tourists and journalists.

Italian rescuers brought everyone down safely, bloodied and bruised, but alive.

The volcano continued erupting Friday.

Visitors are still admiring the view.

But this time, not up close.