Mount Etna explodes spurting lava - sparking fears MEGA eruption imminent

Mount Etna explodes spurting lava - sparking fears MEGA eruption imminent

Giant orange fountains of lava have spewed into the air over Sicily overnight as Mount Etna surged into life.

Mount Etna is considered Europe's most active volcano, and spectacular photos of the eruption have circulated online.

The activity began at Etna's New Southeast Crater last month, and gradually intensified until Monday's "strombolian" eruption, which is characterized by high-flying lava, ash, and gases that rise high enough to be carried by the wind. Smaller bursts have occurred regularly in recent years, though the last major event was in 1992.

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During that eruption, Europe's Mt. Etna threatened to overtake a Sicilian village with its flowing lava.

Plumes of smoke and ash erupt from Mount Etna on October 30, 2002. A team of US marines lent a hand during the aptly named Operation Volcano Buster, dropping concrete blocks at the edge of the lava tunnel to plug the hole. The fiery explosion could be seen in the nearby town of Catania, though the local airport remained open and is operating as usual today, reported the Associated Press (AP). Scientists are tracking the activities of the volcano and the ash cloud.

Mount Etna is believed to have the longest written record of eruptions of any of the world's volcanoes, with its first recorded eruption happening in 425 B.C.

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