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Mount Etna Eruption Disrupts Sicily’s Main International Airport

Catania, July 06, 2024, The Europe Today: Sicily’s main international airport faced significant disruption on Friday due to the eruption of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. The eruption briefly shut down Catania Airport and caused extensive ash fallout.

Mount Etna emitted fiery lava and large columns of ash and smoke, reaching up to five kilometers into the air overnight, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). By late Friday, the flow of lava into the sea had calmed, INGV reported.

Earlier in the day, Catania Airport declared itself “unusable due to volcanic ash,” suspending both arrivals and departures. Later updates from the airport indicated a partial reopening, with departures resuming and arrivals limited to two per hour.

Mount Etna, standing at approximately 3,324 meters (10,905 feet) tall, is not only the most active but also the highest volcano in Europe. The eruption prompted residents and authorities around Catania, located on Sicily’s eastern coast, to clean streets blanketed in ash. Catania Airport is a crucial hub, serving millions of passengers annually who visit Sicily, one of Italy’s top tourist destinations.

Simultaneously, volcanic activity on nearby Stromboli Island led authorities to raise the security alert to its highest level. Known for its near-continuous activity, Stromboli also spewed lava and ash, according to INGV.

Stromboli Island, with only a few hundred full-time residents, is a popular tourist destination, famous for its holiday homes owned by the rich and famous. Tourists typically reach the island by sea from the Italian mainland or Sicily.

Italy’s civil protection agency stated that Stromboli was “under surveillance” and emphasized that evacuation plans were ready in case of an emergency explosion.