A quake triggered by Mount Etna's ongoing eruption jolted eastern Sicily before dawn Wednesday, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. Italy's Civil Protection officials said the quake, which struck at 3:19am, was part of a swarm of some 1,000 tremors, most of them barely perceptible, linked to Etna's volcanic eruption this week. Italy's national seismology institute said the quake registered a magnitude of 4.8 and occurred at a relatively shallow depth, 0.6 miles under the mountain's surface, reports the AP.
Etna, the largest of Italy's three active volcanoes, has been particularly active since July. In recent days, its latest eruption has been shooting volcanic ash, heavy smoke, and lava stones into the air, coating roads and homes nearby with ash. A new fracture has opened near Etna's southeast crater and lava has been flowing down an uninhabited slope. "Etna remains a dangerous volcano, and this country of ours is unfortunately fragile," government undersecretary Vito Crimi said. Wednesday's temblor damaged some rural homes, including structures that had been abandoned years ago, toppled a Madonna statue in a church in the town of Santa Venerina, and opened up cracks on a highway, which was closed for inspection, Rai state radio said.
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