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Italy's Mount Etna spewing ash clouds

2012-01-05 18:00

Rome - A column of hot ash spewed high into the sky from Italy's Mount Etna on the Mediterranean island of Sicily on Thursday, as Europe's highest active volcano rumbled back to life, officials said.

Officials held a crisis meeting at the nearby Catania airport but for the moment flights have not been halted.

The volcano spent out a column of ash up to 5 000 metres above sea level and lava was also seen flowing from a new crater on the southeast side of the summit toward the uninhabited Valle del Bove region, according to the Catania Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology.

Etna rumbled back to life on Wednesday night.

The 3 295-metre peak regularly awakens to spew lava and ash, eruptions that sometimes last for days at a time and can force the closure of Catania airport.