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2 Feb, 2015 17:13

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

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

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.

Etna Eruption# extraordinary power# pic.twitter.com/Cq4wZVufpa

— Buy In Sicily R.E. (@BuyinSicily) February 2, 2015

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

#Etna, il fiume di #fuoco tra la #neve. L'#eruzione vista da sudovest, #spettacolare foto di Claudio Maria Fusto. pic.twitter.com/MrE4yxucBS

— Turi Caggegi (@TuriCaggegi) February 1, 2015

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.

Effusive eruption at Mount Etna, Sicily this evening. pic.twitter.com/HVO2bX6S1b

— Kerry Mason (@kerry_mason) February 1, 2015

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.

Italy and the Mediterranean seen by @NASANPP early Monday morning. Big eruption of Mount #Etna in the middle-right! pic.twitter.com/JgMB9FWXmn

— Simon Proud (@simon_rp84) February 2, 2015

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.