New images of volcano victim killed in cloud of 500C toxic gas while escaping

New grisly images have been released showing the "last fugitive" trying to flee the eruption from Mount Vesuvius and being boiled alive.

The eruption is one of the most famous and deadly natural disasters in history, claiming the lives of at least 2,000 people.

Grisly remains of the man – who archaeologists believe was in his 40s – were uncovered by researchers in Herculaneum, Italy.

Scientists believe the victim was killed just metres away from the sea as he tried to flee from the 500C cloud of ash and toxic gas.

The man’s skeleton shows his face turned upwards, which suggests that he had faced the cloud head-on, dying instantly as a result.

Biologist Pierpaolo Petrone said: "At 500C, the brain and blood boils and flesh evaporates, leaving the bones which need 1,000C to burn."

Italian archaeologist and site director, Francesco Sirano, told The Times: "Most of the people we’ve found here at Herculaneum were face down, but maybe he was trying to reach a boat and turned because he heard the roar of the cloud racing towards him at 100km per hour."

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Sirano and his team used special metal blades to carefully chip away at the lava rock that has kept the man’s remains trapped for nearly 2,000 years – since 79 AD.

He appears to have been clutching a small leather bag containing a wooden box, from which a ring can be seen sticking out.

The skeleton was found in October but was only unveiled at a press conference on Wednesday, with the man believed to be the final victim of the eruption discovered at the same location where 300 other victims had sought cover in the hope of being rescued by boats.

Domenico Camardo, an archaeologist, has compared the impact of the eruption on Herculaneum, to the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

He told the Guardian: "The remains of victims here have been found in a similar condition to those of Hiroshima. You really get a sense of the horror and tragedy."

Much remains unknown about the man dubbed the "last fugitive" and how he came to be in that spot.

Camardo told the Times: "Why wasn’t he in the shelters with the others? Maybe he was a rescuer come ashore in the boat that has been already found nearby."

Sirano believes he could have been a soldier who was trying to launch a rescue mission to help people, or perhaps he was a fugitive.

He told ANSA: "A soldier who was perhaps setting up a launch to rescue a first group of people on the high seas.

"Or one of the fugitives, who had moved away from the group to reach the sea hoping to be able to embark on one of the lifeboats, who knows perhaps the last and most unfortunate of a group that had managed to take off."

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