Mounts Etna, Stromboli Are Acting More Ornery Than Usual

Catania's airport shut down on Italian island of Sicily after 2 volcanoes erupt
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2024 9:00 AM CDT
On Sicily, a Double Eruption Sends Ash, Lava Flying
This color infrared image shows lava flowing from Mount Etna, in Sicily, Italy, on Thursday.   (Satellite image, copyright 2024 Maxar Technologies, via AP)

Italy's civil protection agency put out a red alert on Friday, its top warning, for Sicily after two of the Mediterranean island's volcanoes got more rumbly than usual. Both Mount Etna, near Catania in the east, and Mount Stromboli, in the nearby Aeolian Islands, have erupted, hurling hot ash and lava into the sky and sea and causing Catania's airport to shut down, reports Reuters. "The runway at Catania Airport is unusable due to the volcanic ash fall. Both arrivals and departures are suspended," the airport said in a statement,

By 4:30pm local time, the airport tweeted that it had reopened, but with some delays and limited operations. As of late Friday local time, nearly 70 flights had been canceled, with many diverted to the Sicilian capital of Palermo, a few hours' drive from Catania, per USA Today and Euronews. Both volcanoes are active and experience regular eruptions, but "they are experiencing a particularly high level of activity" at the moment, notes the New York Times, citing a Sicilian firefighting inspector.

Etna's crater had been dormant for four years or so, until about two weeks ago, when eruptions leading up to Thursday's explosion began. One volcanologist says the ash cloud from Etna spewed 15,000 feet into the air, with the wind then carrying the ash to nearby towns. In Catania, the mayor banned motorcycles for two days due to the ash and instituted a speed limit of around 20mph for all other vehicles. Stromboli, meanwhile, is said to be "under surveillance" in case evacuation is eventually needed, per Nello Musmeci, the nation's civil protection minister. (More Mount Etna stories.)

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