Mount Etna eruption
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Italy's most active volcano, Mount Etna, erupted for the first time since 2013 on Thursday, sending lava and ash into the sky in a spectacular show.

The "dirty thunderstorm" caused lightning to strike through the clouds in a sight both terrific and terrifying.

The ash from the eruption covered the nearby cities of Messina in Sicily and Reggio Calabria on the Italian mainland, where the airport has been closed.

Motorists and motorcyclists have been urged to drive carefully in the ash, but some residents have fun, treating it like new-fallen snow.

The volcano is thought to have become active a month ago, with Thursday's eruption the first large enough to reach the rim the Voragine, one of its five craters.

At 10,992 feet, Mount Etna is the tallest volcano in Europe with a basal circumference of 87 miles. Since its first recorded eruption in 475 BC, Etna gained legendary status throughout the ages, with classical Greek stories portraying it as inhabited by gods of fire, a cyclops, and dragons.

Airspace had to be closed when Etna erupted two years ago.