James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Mount Etna spews ash and lava in spectacular new eruption
17 February 2021, 08:06
Mount Etna has spewed ash, smoke and lave into the sky in a huge new eruption on the Italian island of Sicily.
The volcano, which is one of the most active in the world, erupted on Tuesday.
Images and videos posted on social media show plumes of smoke billowing into the sky and bright orange lava flooding down the side of the huge volcano.
Authorities have said no nearby towns are at risk, with no reports of any injuries or damage nearby.
Asked about the severity of the explosion, the head of the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology in the nearby city of Catania, Stefano Branco, told Italian news agency AGI "we've seen worse" and said it is not a cause for concern.
However, Italy's Central Emergency Department said it was watching the towns of Linguaglossa, Fornazzo and Milo.
The airport at Catania had to close due to ash, which had risen more than a kilometre into the air and made it unsafe to fly, according to local media.
By the early hours of Wednesday volcanic activity had started to ease.
At 3,324 metres (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.