Mount Etna belched smoke and ashes in a new eruption this week but Italian authorities said the volcano, one of the world’s most active, did not pose any danger to the villages nearby.
“We’ve seen worse,” the head of the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology in the nearby city of Catania, Stefano Branca, told Italian news agency AGI.
Estimating that the eruption from Etna’s southeastern crater began late on Tuesday afternoon, Branca insisted that the latest burst of activity was “not at all worrying”.
Nevertheless, with small stones and ashes raining down, authorities decided to close Catania’s international airport.
The emergency authorities said on Twitter they were monitoring the situation closely in the three villages at the foot of the volcano – Linguaglossa, Fornazzo and Milo.
Images showed a spectacular rose-coloured plume of ashes above the snow-capped summit, but the cloud had largely dissipated by nightfall, while lava flows continued to glow.
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.