Mt. Etna spews volcanic ash in 1st eruption of 2012

Catania residents see big cloud of smoke; lava flows from South East crater, a column of ash rises to a height of 5,000 meters.

January 5, 2012 15:32

Illustrative. (photo credit: REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello)

Catania inhabitants witnessed a big cloud of smoke rising from Mount Etna Thursday morning, in the volcano's first eruption of the year.

The eruption was powerful and clearly visible, even from a distance, according to Sicilia news 24.

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Lava flowed from the South East crater, and a column of ash rose to a height of 5,000 meters in the South West direction, according to the report. 

The eruption did not affect residential areas, but the volcano activity was reportedly classified as "critically high."

The explosions finished and the Fontanarossa airport remained open. 

Mount Etna is Europe's tallest and most active volcano, and one of Sicliy's top attractions. Its last major eruption was in 1992.

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