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WATCH as Mount Etna erupts, covering villages in ash & halting air traffic (VIDEOS)

WATCH as Mount Etna erupts, covering villages in ash & halting air traffic (VIDEOS)
A surge in earthquakes have been plaguing Sicily after Europe’s highest and most active volcano began spewing lava from a new fracture. Mount Etna's eruption covered nearby villages in ash and shut down the Catania airport.

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. Soon after, lava flows began pouring out of the crack, eventually sending an ash column spewing eastward into the sky. People on the mountainside were urged to evacuate the area immediately.

Throughout the afternoon, the ash covered surrounding villages and led to the sporadic closure of Catania's airport. By 9:30pm, air traffic was shut down altogether, with Sicily registering around 200 small-medium sized tremors.

So far, no injuries have been reported resulting from the ongoing eruptions and seismic activity. Sicilians are being asked to take precautions such as avoiding the crater and surrounding areas. Authorities are also worried about the possible damage volcanic ash could have on agricultural crops growing on the island.

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