Europe’s tallest and most active volcano erupted overnight, spewing giant plumes of ash into the sky above the Italian island of Sicily on Friday.
Mount Etna, a 700,000-year-old volcano, erupted at 3 a.m. local time after an increase of seismic activity over the past week, with incredible images showing lava erupting from a crater and lighting up the night sky, BBC reported.
The volcano is more than double the height of Europe’s second-largest volcano, Mount Vesuvius, which is best known for erupting in AD 79 and burying the Roman city of Pompeii near modern Naples.
Etna looms above the city of Catania on the east coast of Sicily — home to 1.1 million Italians — and frequently erupts but has only been responsible for 77 deaths, according to one study, most recently of two tourists in 1987.
A team of British experts last year discovered the giant volcano is edging closer to the Mediterranean Sea by 1.4 centimeters every year, which could result in collapse.
On Friday, a huge column of gas spewed from Mount Etna, but Catania Fontanarossa International Airport remained open.
An eruption in March 2017 injured 10 people, including a BBC News television crew filming near the summit, after magma exploded upon contact with snow, Reuters reported.
An eruption in December 2018 was also followed by a 4.9 magnitude earthquake which damaged buildings and injured four people.
In 2002, a much larger Mount Etna eruption sent an ash plume into the sky which reached all the way to Libya, NASA reported.
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