Lightning bolt triggers volcano eruption

This is the extraordinary moment a volcano erupts, shooting luminous hot lava from the surface as a lightning bolt strikes the centre of the mountain.

Photographer Martin Reitze, 55, captured these rare images as volcanic ash escaped from the Ebeko volcano in Russia while the lightning froze the ash cloud in time.

Mr Reitze, from Munich, Germany, was standing around a kilometre away from the northern crater of the volcano when it erupted.

The volcano expert said: "The strong lightning which shows in the image is a very rare exception, as it was much stronger than usual.

"It was strong enough to illuminate the whole sky with its bluish lighting.

"It caused the moving ash cloud to freeze."

Mr Reitze spent around seven hours patiently waiting for an eruption to happen and felt "extremely lucky" that he managed to get the perfect shot.

He said: "Even when you are an avid volcano observer, it can take a decade to witness such a lightning event.

"It is an unusually strong and rare volcanic lightning bolt generated by the eruption of the volcano.

"It was a scary moment, unexpectedly the whole landscape was bright and when the lightning struck, it irritated my eyes."

Mr Reitze said he has previously captured thousands of pictures of volcanic eruptions but "never managed to get one like this."

He said: "It shows that there are many wonders on this planet and how powerful nature really is.

"This image is a result of being patient for over a year. I had to frequently visit volcanoes worldwide in often extremely remote places to finally witness something like this."