‘Lively spattering’: Italy’s Mount Etna sparks into life

Mount Etna in southern Italy has burst into life, spitting molten lava high into the sky, though cloud cover Saturday ruined the view for those brave enough to venture up the flanks of Europe's highest volcano.

'Lively spattering': Italy's Mount Etna sparks into life
A videograb released by AFPTV shows Mount Etna erupting on May 31st. Photo: Alessio TRICANI / AFPTV / AFP

The National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) said there was “lively spattering” as fire and hot ash spewed high into the sky in an eruption which began Thursday and had slowed slightly by Saturday but still posed a risk to climbers.

The lava came from two eruptive fissures on the northeastern and south-southeastern sides of the New Southeast Crater.

The volcano on the island of Sicily previously erupted in December.

The latest lava show was not expected to pose any problems for nearby residential areas or for flights at the closest airport at Catania.

READ ALSO: Mount Etna is sliding towards the sea and now we know why

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Sicily’s Mount Etna has grown after six months of eruptions

Europe's tallest active volcano is now even taller, after the most active crater changed shape and size due to ongoing eruptions this year.

Sicily's Mount Etna has grown after six months of eruptions

Mount Etna’s southeastern crater has grown in height after six months of activity, Italy’s volcano monitoring agency said on Tuesday.

The famous volcano’s youngest and most active crater has risen to a new record of 3,357 metres (11,000 feet) above sea level, said INGV, the NationalInstitute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, based in the Sicilian city of Catania.

IN PHOTOS: A month of spectacular eruptions at Sicily’s Mount Etna

“Thanks to the analysis and processing of satellite images, [we can see] the southeast crater is now much higher than its ‘older brother’, the northeast crater, for 40 years the undisputed peak of Etna,” the INGV wrote in a press release.

Some 50 episodes of ash and lava belching from the mouth of the crater since mid-February have led to a “conspicuous transformation of the volcano’s outline”, with its dimensions calculated through satellite images, it said.

The northeastern crater of Etna reached a record height of 3,350 metres in 1981, but a collapse at its edges reduced that to 3,326 metres, recorded in 2018.

The crater has been churning out smoke and ash regularly since February.

Though dramatic, the eruptions are described as “normal” by scientists and pose little danger to surrounding villages.

Sicily’s government estimated in July that 300,000 tonnes of ash had been cleaned up so far.

A municipal employee sweeping up ash from the Mount Etna volcano in Milo, north of Catania, Sicily, on March 2nd, 2021. Photo: Giovanni ISOLINO/AFP

The ash has been a nuisance in surrounding areas, dirtying streets, slowing traffic and damaging crops.

In Catania, a two-hour drive from the volcano, local resident Tania Cannizzaro told AFP that Mount Etna was both beautiful and an annoyance, with ash sometimes falling “like rain”.

“Depending on the wind, the rumblings of the volcano reach Catania and make the windows shake,” she said, adding that the ashes turn the streets and balconies black.

“But there is also the spectacle, especially in the evening, when you see this red plume that moves.”

A view of lava flowing down the sides of the southern crater of the Etna volcano on February 24th, 2021 as seen from Zafferana Etnea, Sicily. Photo: Giovanni ISOLINO/AFP