Italy’s Etna spews smoke and ashes, closing airport

ROME (AFP): Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, belched smoke and ashes in a new eruption on Monday, forcing the temporary closure of the airport of Catania in Sicily.

The ash cloud rose 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) into the air above a crator on the south-east of the volcano, the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology said on Twitter.

The nearby Vincenzo Bellini international airport in Catania closed at lunchtime Monday until further notice, with inbound flights diverted to Palermo.

Ash covered roads, balconies and roofs of towns nearby, Italy’s civil protection agency said.

INGV said it had recorded a gradual rise in volcanic-seismic tremor — induced by escaping gases — which could be a sign that Etna is heading towards another spectacular burst of fiery lava fountaining, known as paroxysmal activity.

At 3,324 metres (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.