Sicily closes airport as Etna and Stromboli volcanoes erupt


CATANIA – Italy’s Mount Etna and the smaller Stromboli volcano spewed hot ash and lava, raising alert levels on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and forcing a temporary shutdown of the airport in Catania, disrupting flights.


Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has seen intense activity in recent days, lighting up the sky near Catania, while Stromboli off the northern Sicilian coast spilled lava into the sea.

“The runway at Catania Airport is unusable due to volcanic ash fall: both arrivals and departures are suspended,” the company managing the airport said in a statement.

Footage shared on social media showed the streets of central Catania covered in thick layers of black ash, slowing traffic. Residents and authorities moved in to clean up the city after streets and cars were smothered in ash. Mount Etna, a 3,324-metre (10,905ft) volcano, has erupted multiple times in recent decades. Over the past few days, its crater had started spitting out fountains of scorching lava and releasing ash that landed on Catania airport.

Millions of passengers transit every year through Catania’s airport, which connects them to eastern Sicily, among Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. Italy’s Civil Protection Department also issued a red alert, its highest, for Stromboli, warning the situation could deteriorate.

Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said Stromboli was “under surveillance”, adding that authorities were making sure evacuation plans were ready in case of emergency. The fire brigade said they had doubled the number of firefighters on the island, also named Stromboli, which is just off Sicily. Mount Stromboli, which rises to 920 metres (3,018ft) and has a base reaching 2,000 metres (6,560ft) below sea level, is known for being one of the only nearly constantly active volcanoes in the world, according to the vulcanology agency. In 2019, one person was killed and a second injured in a Stromboli eruption.  (Al Jazeera)


Photo: Etna lightens up the sky near the city of Catania. (AFP) …[+]