Saturday, July 13, 2024

Red alert issued after Mount Etna volcano eruption

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Activity at Italy’s Mount Etna has significantly increased since Wednesday evening (Picture: SWNS)

Eruptions at Italy’s Mount Etna and Stromboli volcanoes have raised the alert level on the Mediterranean island of Sicily.

Activity at the 10,905ft volcano – Europe’s highest – has increased significantlyin the last 24 hours. Photographs captured lava spewing from Etna’s largest crater with spectacular force.

Dozens of flights at nearby Catania airport, the main international gateway to Sicily, have been cancelled or delayed, with around 15,000 passengers affected by the disruption.

Ryanair was forced to cancel 42 flights within Italy – to Rome, Venice, Pisa and Bergamo – while easyJet have axed connections to London, Milano and Napoli.

Meanwhile, some arrivals have been diverted to Palermo, a four-hour drive away.

A map showing the location of the eruption in Sicily (Picture: MetroUK/SWNS/Google)

There are disruptions to services for the rest of today, but Catania Airport remains open and is yet to comment on the situation.

The Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) – essentially the Etna Observatory – has issued a red warning, meaning the situation could deteriorate.

It warned that a ‘gradual increase’ in Strombolian activity in the Voragine crater was recorded at 8pm on Wednesday.

INGV added in a statement: ‘The average amplitude of the volcanic tremor, after a gradual increase observed starting from 8pm yesterday, has reached the high level, with an increasing trend.’

Italy’s Civil Protection Department has warned that this is not a one-off event. Mount Etna has erupted multiple times in recent decades.

Etna and Stromboli were spewing hot ash and lava just a few days ago, forcing a temporary shutdown of the airport.

Footage shared on social media on Friday showed the streets of central Catania and cars covered in thick layers of black ash, slowing traffic.

Tourists have been advised to follow government instructions on the radio and TV, and to avoid areas around the volcano craters.

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