Sicily's Mount Etna spews ash from new fracture

Authorities close airport as Italy's Mount Etna erupts

Lava, ash spew from new fracture on Italy's Mount Etna

Italy's Catania airport is reopening after an ash cloud from Mount Etna's latest eruptions forced it to shut down. Italy's National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology said that around 130 earthquakes have been rocking the volcano since 08:00 GMT.

Mount Etna marked Christmas celebrations with a spike in seismic activity, causing a new fracture to open up at the base of a southeast crater at around 11 am Monday morning.

At least 130 tremors have rattled villages on the slopes of the volcanic mountain earlier this week, with the most powerful quake registering a magnitude of 4.3 on Monday.

At 9.30pm on Monday, the authorities made a decision to close the airport for all incoming and outgoing flights because volcanic ash continued being spewed unabated in the atmosphere. Etna is one of the volcanoes with the longest historic records of eruptions, going back more than 2000 years.

The owner of a refuge on the volcano says hikers are being brought down from higher elevations to 1,900 meters (6,230 feet) for their safety.

Etna frequently bursts into action - but it's last major eruption was in 1992.

Air traffic at the airport in the nearby city of Catania was suspended as a result, SKY TG24 private broadcaster reported.

Etna has been particularly active since July.

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