Mount Etna erupts: Plume of smoke and lava engulfs Italian sky as volcano blows top

Italy’s mount Etna erupts with lava fountains 500-600 m

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Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology has confirmed that an eruption took place on Thursday night. Incredible images show the moment the night sky was lit up with red molten lava as ash and smoke was sent eight kilometres high. The eruption centred on the volcano’s southeastern crater, at a height of around 2,900 metres and was seen from as far away as Malta.

There are no reports of injuries so far.

Vincenzo Bellini airport in Catania remains fully operational, and has not been affected by the expulsion of ash, which was described as “discontinuous and slight”.

Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is in an almost constant state of activity.

The 3,330-metre high volcano can burst into spectacular action several times a year, spewing lava and ash high over the Mediterranean island of Sicily.

Over a six-month period in 2021, it erupted so much volcanic material that its height increased by approximately 100 feet.

The National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) said in August: “Thanks to the analysis and processing of satellite images, the south-east crater is now much higher than its ‘older brother’, the north-east crater, for 40 years the undisputed peak of Etna.”

Sicily’s government estimated last July that 300,000 tonnes of ash had been cleaned up from its eruptions.

Experts have examined the risk posed by Etna as the population along the slopes of the volcano increases.

The ash can be a nuisance to locals, dirtying streets, slowing traffic and damaging crops.

Over the last century-and-a-half the number of people living on the slopes of Etna has reached one million.

And during the same period the the amount of inhabitants on the eastern coast of the island has increased three-fold.

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In Catania, a two-hour drive from the volcano, pensioner Tania Cannizzaro told AFP that Mount Etna was both beautiful and an annoyance, with ash sometimes falling “like rain”.

“Depending on the wind, the rumblings of the volcano reach Catania and make the windows shake,” she said, adding that the ashes turned the streets and balconies black.

“But there is also the spectacle, especially in the evening, when you see this red plume that moves.”

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