MOUNT ETNA, Europe’s largest volcano, has been rocked by a “massive explosion” sending huge plumes of ash into the skies after 130 shocks in four just hours.
A Twitter user posted: “Ms Etna is performing a Christmas show. Many little earthquakes in the last few hours.”
Timelapse video of the outbreak:
Another said: “Mount Etna erupting right now. mini earthquakes being felt across Catania. witnessing the wonder of nature. humbled as we were hiking this active volcano just yesterday. #catania #etna #volcano”.
One posted: “#MerryChristmas from Mount Etna who decided to wake up this morning for the festivities… ”
A Twitter user added: “Scary sight: Mount #Etna woke up rather angry this morning. #stratovolcano #Italy #Sicily”.
A meeting of the crisis unit of the airport has been scheduled.
On Etna, the sensors of the Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology of Catania recorded a seismic swarm of 130 shocks, the strongest of which exceeded magnitude 4 after 9am.
Mount Etna, at 3,330 metres (10,926 feet), is the highest volcano in mainland Europe and is considered to be one of the most active in the world.
It produces around seven million tonnes of CO2, water and sulphur dioxide every year and in 2011 spewed nearly 70 million tonnes of lava.
The eruption may appear to be small but there have been dangerous blasts in recent years as ten people were injured including a BBC camera crew in March 2017 when spewing lava exploded on impact with snow.
Etna is in an almost constant state of activity but has remained slightly dormant over the past two years.
The volcano lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate.
The 700,000-year-old volcano is a huge 24 miles wide and 10,926 feet high.
Etna produces around 7 million tonnes of steam, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide every year.
In 2013, Etna was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.