Rome, July 20 (IANS): Italy's Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, erupted overnight, spewing ash high into the air and closing two nearby airports.
The mighty eruption of Sicily's Mount Etna that began late Friday sent molten lava 1.5 km down one side of the mountain and forced the evacuation of some residents of the area, Xinhua news agency reported.
The ash strewn into the air was visible all across eastern Sicily and it limited visibility to the point that officials closed the two airports in Catania, Sicily's second-largest city.
Media reports said that by Saturday morning, the airports were operating at partial capacity and would fully re-open by Sunday. Mount Etna had been producing puffs of smoke in recent weeks and it had a small eruption in December.
The last major eruption of Mount Etna took place more than a decade ago.
Earlier this month, a volcano on the small island of Stromboli, around 100 km north of Mount Etna, erupted, leaving one hiker dead and forcing dozens of tourists and residents to flee.
According to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the recent volcanic activities in the area are all related, and it could signal risks for more volcanic activities going forward.