Lava, ash spew from Italy's Mount Etna

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The Mount Etna observatory says lava and ash are spewing from a new fracture on the active Sicilian volcano amid an unusually high level of seismic activity.

A second tremor measuring 4.3 on the Richter Scale was felt in the Catania region yesterday afternoon, after a tremor of similar magnitude hit in the morning. A blanket of volcanic ash also covered nearby villages, which ground planes to a halt at Catania airport temporarily.

A video filmed 2,500m (8,200 ft) up the 3,350m volcano showed the fast spread of ash.

This was Etna's "first flank eruption" in more than a decade, according to a local volcanologist. People on the mountainside were urged to evacuate the area immediately.

The airport reopened some of the airspace to allow four flights per hour to land.

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Etna is one of three active volcanoes in Italy and has been particularly active since July.

A chain of around 130 tremors have rocked the volcano since around 9am on Monday, Italy's National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology said.

That was followed by intense eruptions from the volcano's new south-east crater.

A swarm of 130 earthquakes was recorded.

Etna formed some 500,000 years ago off the ancient coastline of Sicily.

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