Huge ash cloud over Etna as volcano erupts again

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The volcano's north-east crater at 13:42pm on Wednesday. Photo: INGV
15:46 CEST+02:00
Sicily's Mount Etna is erupting again.

Europe's most active volcano has spent the last 24 hours sending huge plumes of ash and smoke hundreds of metres into the skies above Sicily.

The 3350-metre high volcano began to stir on Tuesday, with emissions from its north-east crater growing in intensity throughout the day.

“On May 17th we witnessed an increase in the amplitude of volcanic tremors and recorded intense degassing accompanied by occasional, weak emissions from the north-eastern crater,” explained the Catania branch of Italy's National Vulcanology and Geophysics Institute (INGV).

Vulcanologists are classing the eruption as 'Strombolian' - a category characterized by explosive bursts of activity during which cinder, ash and smoke are ejected from the crater with great force.

So far, thanks to favourable atmospheric conditions, the ejected material has only fallen in the immediate vicinity of the 1190 km² volcano and flights at Fontanarossa airport in nearby Catania have not been affected.

But the eruption has provided people in the vicinity with a great photo opportunity, with many great snaps being shared on Twitter.

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A live video of the north-east crater can be seen here.

It is the most significant period of activity on the volcano since December 2015, when the mountain witnessed one of its most severe eruptions of the last two decades.

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