Sicily’s Mount Etna erupted Sunday night, producing flaming lava fountains while launching fiery debris hundreds of meters in the air, as a thick plume of ash and smoke coated the surrounding area.
The 3,329-meter (10,922-foot) volcano, Europe’s largest and considered to be the world’s second-most active after Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea, erupted at 9:20pm local time Sunday following a magnitude-2.7 earthquake. The quake was among 17 recorded in the area in the past 24 hours.
The initial intensity of blast increased from medium to high, as torrents of lava shot 100m into the sky at times, while plumes of ash reached five kilometers into the Mediterranean sky.
Etna is roughly 2.5 times the height of the infamous Mount Vesuvius near Naples, so it’s unsurprising the initial blast was heard throughout the Calabria region on the Italian mainland.
The volcano sits atop a seam between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates which renders it particularly active. Ten people were injured in a powerful eruption on March 16, 2017.
The volcano has a knack for interrupting the Christmas period, with a 2018 eruption blanketing the towns and villages in the surrounding area, forcing the local Catania airport to close.