Italy's Mount Etna volcano spewing smoke and ash in new eruption

FILE: Smoke billows from Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.
FILE: Smoke billows from Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AFP
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Heavy clouds around the volcano's summit have impaired visibility, sending ash discharges into the atmosphere

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Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, started erupting on Sunday, spewing ash on Catania, eastern Sicily’s largest city, and forcing a suspension of flights at that city’s airport.

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, or INGV, which closely monitors Etna with instrumentation on the slopes, noted that cloud cover on a rainy day was impeding views of the eruption, which often serves up a spectacular display of flaming lava during the volcano’s not infrequent eruptions.

The institute said that ash had fallen on Catania and at least one town on Mount Etna’s inhabited slopes. No injures were reported.

Catania airport said due to ashfall, flight operations were temporarily suspended. Any clear image of the erupting volcano was made murkier by the bad weather, with rain-full, dark clouds covering Mount Etna.

INGV indicated that monitoring had recorded evidence of a stepping up in tremor activity in recent days.

People in the towns of Adrano and Biancavilla reported hearing loud booms emanating from the volcano on Sunday, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

Italy's national Civil Protection agency had noted on Thursday in an alert that in view of increased volcanic activity, “sudden” variations of Etna's activity could occur.

The last eruption on Mount Etna wasn't too long ago. On 14 May, 2023 - coincidentally another Sunday - authorities reported an eruption which spewed out ash from the south-eastern side of the volcano, the same place where the new eruption was spotted last Sunday.

In early 2021, an eruption of the volcano lasted several weeks. 

On Tuesday morning, Italian authorities declared that the new eruption on Mount Etna was officially over. The airport in Catania has reopened.

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