A volcanic eruption on the Italian island of Stromboli has reportedly killed one tourist and thrown travellers' plans into disarray.

However, the ongoing eruption has the potential to affect travel for thousands more across Europe during the peak summer season.

On Wednesday, the dramatic plumes of ash were seen emerging from the island like a "mushroom cloud."

Michela Favorito, who works in a hotel near Fico Grande, on the island's east coast, said: "We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us.

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"The whole sky is full of ash, a fairly large cloud."

Emergency workers confirmed that one tourist was killed in the event. The AGI news agency described the victim as a 35-year-old man from Sicily who was hiking at the time of the explosion.

70 people including holidaymakers have been evacuated from the island, according to the BBC, but it is possible that the volcano could spread this disruption further.

"We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli. Everyone was in shock," said Fiona Carter, a tourist who observed the eruption from nearly 30km away.

Stromboli plume: The eruption could be heard 30km away. Photo/ Supplied @FionaCarter
Stromboli plume: The eruption could be heard 30km away. Photo/ Supplied @FionaCarter

"The cloud got bigger, white and grey. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely," she told Reuters.

Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands to the south west of Italy, near Sicily.

With a population of around 500 it has an economy that relies heavily on tourism. And July is peak season for travellers heading to the Mediterranean.

Stromboli has been erupting almost continuously since 1932. The novelty of the active volcanic island has been drawing visitors for years.

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The 924 metre volcano is a popular destination for travellers hiking the summit.

The latest eruption has already affected hundreds of locals and tourists, but there is a concern that, if it continues, this massive cloud of ash has the potential to impact aerospace over Italy and Europe.

Ash cloud: The German Aerospace Centre looked into the potential disruption of Stromboli in 2014. The disruptions Illustration / Supplied, DLR
Ash cloud: The German Aerospace Centre looked into the potential disruption of Stromboli in 2014. The disruptions Illustration / Supplied, DLR

In 2014 a large plume of ash prompted scientists from the German Aerospace Centre to model the Stromboli's possible impact on commercial air traffic.

The study by the DLR (Deutsches Luft und Raumfahrtzentrum) took "into account the disruption posed by volcanic ash cloud" on European Air Traffic.

Due to the Volcano's position in the central Mediterranean, a continued eruption could end up "affecting all Italian flight information regions [FIRs]".

The paper listed a possible 16 national FIRs that could be affected on the borders of Italy. If the Stromboli eruption continues for consecutive days it could affect FIRs as far north as Germany and Poland.

The report said it was "not yet clear what effects on air traffic operations each type [of eruption scenario] eventually has".

The Institute for Flight Guidance said that is was possible to navigate round a plume and their goals was "to reduce adverse impact of volcanic ash on air traffic management."

Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands has been erupting since 1932. Photo / Flight Radar 24
Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands has been erupting since 1932. Photo / Flight Radar 24

There have been no flight disruptions reported so far, with airports in Sicily and mainland Italy still scheduling flights for this morning.

In 2010 Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull eruption caused 20 countries across the Atlantic to close their commercial airspace in the largest air travel disruption since the Second World War. Air traffic was grounded for six days, for fear of the damaged caused by volcanic debris and dust to jet engines.

Last year, Indonesia's Mount Agung volcano in Bali closed airports on the island for 12 hours, disrupting air traffic from New Zealand and Australia.