Mount Etna, in Italy, Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, is spewing ash and lava. It began a new phase of eruptions on Thursday.
The new active phase could be over quickly or it could go on for months. Authorities say the activity is taking place at its summit and does not pose a risk to people and towns. However visitors to Etna must stay away from the summit for their own safety. The volcano previously erupted in December. That eruption was linked to an earthquake which caused injuries and extensive damage to buildings. The volcano is 700,000-year-old. Etna looms above the city of Catania on the east coast of Sicily, home to 1.1 million Italians.
Catania Fontanarossa International Airport remained open. Etna is a popular tourist destination and its eruptions, especially when seen at night, are spectacular to watch. Etna is the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km (87 miles). Mount Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is in an almost constant state of activity. The Roman poet Virgil gave what was probably a first-hand description of an eruption in the Aeneid. In June 2013, Mount Etna was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Mount Etna is moving towards the Mediterranean Sea at an average rate of 14 mm (0.55 in) per year.