Mount Etna

Mount Etna
Italy's Mount Etna began spewing hot ash and lava overnight, forcing authorities to close two airports in eastern Sicily. Experts detected "lively spattering" at the volcano last month.

Europe's biggest active volcano, Mount Etna, erupted early Saturday with fiery explosions and lava flows, the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) said.

Plumes of ash prompted authorities on the island of Sicily to close the Fontanarossa and Comiso Airports in the city of Catania, local media reported.

La Repubblica newspaper said a Ryanair flight from Rome was diverted to Palermo on Friday night, while several flights were delayed from landing or taking off on Saturday.


Airport authorities said flights had returned to normal at 11 a.m. local time (0900 UTC), but stressed that there may still be disruptions and delays.

According to the INGV, the lava was spurting from one of the craters on the volcano's desert-like southeastern face, and then traveling around 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) down a barren escarpment called the Valle del Bove (Ox Valley).

The most recent Etna activity follows an eruption in December as well as "lively spattering" recorded by the institute in June.

At 3,300 meters (10,826 feet), Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe.