Deadly beauty: Lava flow at Italy’s Etna volcano (PHOTOS)

People watch Italy's Mount Etna, Europe's tallest and most active volcano, spewing lava as it erupts on the southern island of Sicily November 17, 2013. (Reuters/Antonio Parrinello)
The continuing eruption of Europe’s most active volcano, Etna, on the Italian island of Sicily has provided for some breathtaking night images of smoke clouds and flowing lava.

On Sunday, the lava flow at Etna has descended to approximately 2,000 meters, stopping just a few kilometers west of the provincial road to La Sapienza, Volcano Discovery website said.

The volcano began erupting on December 28, 2014, which was the most activity recorded from Etna since December 2013.

Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and is almost constantly in a state of activity. The first recorded observation of its eruption was made by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus in 425 BC.

For centuries Etna has been threatening the heavily populated towns and villages surrounding the foothills of mountain, despite the volcano’s character. Due to this character and own persistency, the coastal town of Catania had to be rebuilt on several occasions after being hit by lava between 122 BC and 1185 AD.

Some 1,500 people were killed in 1669 when the town of Nicoli was decimated by an earthquake originating beneath Mount Etna. In 1928, the village of Mascali was destroyed in just two days when a fissure opened up near the foot of the mountain. Only the involvement of the US Marines allowed the town of Zafferana to be saved from the lava flow in 1992.

READ MORE: Skiing over cold lava: Italian thrill seekers zoom down Mt Etna (VIDEO)

Despite the threat, Mount Etna is a cornerstone of the Sicilian economy as it provides fertile land for agriculture, due to fallen ash, and attracts thousands of tourists to the region.

The 3,329-meter-tall volcano, which has four summit craters, has been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in June 2013.