British tourist dies hiking Italy’s Mount Vesuvius

Summit of Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius in Italy where temperatures in many areas have climbed to 40C - Andrii Kozak/iStockphoto

A British tourist has died climbing Mount Vesuvius in Italy amid a spate of heat-related fatalities in southern Europe.

The UK visitor, named by Italian media as Mark John Irwin, was approaching the summit of the volcano near Naples at the weekend when he suddenly fell ill.

He reportedly suffered a heart attack and despite the efforts of rescuers, died on the spot.

Mr Irwin, 56, was based in the US and was visiting Italy with his wife and two children.

A spokesman for the British embassy in Rome said that officials were supporting the family of a British national who died in Italy.

Italy has been in the grip of a heatwave in the past few days, with many parts of the country hit by temperatures of up to 40C (104F).

“He was right up at the summit when he collapsed,” Paolo Cappelli, the president of an association of mountain guides who work on the volcano, told The Telegraph.

“His wife told us that he had had an operation on his heart two or three months ago. We think he may have had a heart attack.

“It’s very sad. It is pretty rare for this to happen on Vesuvius. We have one death every one or two years which is not much considering the fact that around 3,000 people climb to the top of the volcano each day.”

Conditions at the top of the volcano were not extreme, said Mr Cappelli. “Last week, the temperature reached 40C in Naples but on Sunday, when this happened, there was a breeze and it was around 27C.”

Elsewhere in Europe, in Crete, a 67-year-old German hiker was found dead after setting off alone on a hike in the Trypiti gorge near the village of Sougia on the island’s rugged south coast.

A few hours into the hike, he called his wife to say that he was feeling unwell.

“A search and rescue operation started immediately and a special rescue unit with drones spotted the man’s (body) in Trypiti canyon,” a police official told Reuters.

Trypiti gorge is to the west of the much better-known Samaria Gorge, a dramatic canyon that plunges from Crete’s mountainous interior to its south coast and which each year attracts tens of thousands of hikers.

Across Europe, a number of tourists have died or disappeared on hikes as the continent is hit by unusually high June temperatures.

Rescuers are still searching for two French women, aged 73 and 64, on the Aegean island of Sikinos, after they went missing on a walk.

Officials are also looking for a 59-year-old American retired policeman who vanished while on a hike on the island of Amorgos.

Last week, a 55-year-old American was found dead on the island of Mathraki near Corfu in the Ionian Sea, while a Dutch tourist died on the island of Samos died earlier in the month.

Michael Mosley, the British health guru and television presenter, died on the Aegean island of Symi earlier this month after setting out on a solo hike in temperatures that reached about 40C.

In Tenerife, a large operation has been launched to try to find missing British teenager Jay Slater.

The 19-year-old apprentice bricklayer from Lancashire went missing eight days ago, with his last known location being in a rugged area of steep ridges and deep canyons near the tiny mountain village of Masca.