A water drop on a forest fire and lavaflow on Etna
One other important difference we must address is the ability of countries to cope with volcanic eruptions and how much they can afford to spend on amongst other things: monitoring of the volcano, prevention of lavaflow and potentially rescue of victims.
The residents of Sicily are fortunate in that being part of Italy they are funded by a well off government and so are well protected against any threat, and there are significant measures taken against the lavaflows as described on the 'Preventative Measures' page (click on picture above to link).
As a demonstration of the importance of economic support in such cases consider the following statistics:
N.B. Mt. Etna's total is for its entire history while the others are for individual eruptions!
This illustrates how the larger death tolls befall the poorer countries (bearing in mind that Nevado del Ruis in columbia killed 23,000 and so is off the scale - the GDP per capita in Columbia is £3,358), while the wealthier countries have fewer. A good example of preventing a higher death toll was at Mt. St. Helens where many more would have died (those who did shouldn't have been as close as they were) were it not for the effort made after the eruption in evacuation and rescue, thanks to the countries wealth.