Etna roars again, sending towering volcanic ash cloud –

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Volcanic ash rises from the southeast crater of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. The second strongest paroxysm of 2022 produced volcanic smoke and ash that rose 10 kilometers (6 .2 miles) forcing the temporary closure of nearby Vincenzo Bellini International Airport in Catania. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)

ROME (AP) — Mount Etna has returned to spectacular action after a few months of relative calm, sending a cloud of volcanic ash 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) high over eastern Sicily.

The lava flow from Mount Etna, one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, was centered around the crater on the mountain’s southeastern slope, Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology said on Monday.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage to inhabited towns surrounding the slopes of the volcano, which is popular with hikers, skiers and other tourists.

By Monday afternoon, lava flow from the crater had stopped, the institute said. But earlier in the day, as the volcanic cloud poured down Mount Etna, the institute issued a warning for planes in the area.

The towering cloud, visible for miles, was the latest awe-inspiring display of Etna’s might this month. Earlier in February, a particularly powerful eruption sent lightning flashes dramatically across the skies over eastern Sicily.

Etna has had dozens of known eruptions in its history. In 1669, in what was considered the volcano’s worst known eruption, lava buried part of Catania, the largest city in the east of the island of Sicily, and devastated dozens of villages.

More recently, in 1983, dynamite was used to divert lava from threatening cities. In 1992 the army built an earthen wall to contain the lava, flowing from Mount Etna for months, so that it would not enter any of the villages on the slopes.

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