Mount Etna erupts, spews lava chunks

The active volcano on the Italian island of Sicily came alive overnight, spraying columns of ash and lava as high as 150 meters into the sky. But authorities haven't ordered any nearby villages to evacuate.

Several months after its last eruption, Mount Etna in eastern Sicily has started spewing chunks of flaming lava from its crater.

Photographs of the spectacle on Saturday showed streams of red magma spilling down the volcano's slopes and plumes of ash extending skywards.

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Streams of lava run down the slopes of Mount Etna after an eruption early Saturday

An increase in volcanic activity was detected at the peak in July, but according to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), the eruption began in earnest on Thursday. 

Nature and Environment | 13.07.2018

Since then, the INGV said, Etna has been shooting lava continuously as high as 150 meters (500 feet).

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This photo from an INGV surveillance camera shows plumes of smoke and ash filling the sky

Ash plumes could also be seen spreading several hundred meters above the crater. 

No evacuation orders have been issued for towns on the volcano's slopes, and flights into the nearby airport at Catania are continuing uninterrupted.

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Spectacular light show: The latest eruption began late Thursday

Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, formed some 500,000 years ago off the ancient coastline of Sicily. It usually experiences small eruptions every few months.

It is popular with hikers, and its slopes are also home to local farms hoping to reap the benefits of the fertile volcanic soil. In 2013, Etna was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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nm/aw (AP, dpa)

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