Etna eruption shakes Sicily and blows ash plume into sky

The remains of a collapsed structure are backdropped by plumes of smoke coming out Mount Etna volcano in Fleri Sicily Italy
The remains of a collapsed structure are backdropped by plumes of smoke coming out Mount Etna volcano in Fleri Sicily Italy Source Associated Press
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27 December, 2018

An natural disaster with a magnitude of 4.8 hit an area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily early on Wednesday, damaging buildings and injuring about 30 people, officials said.

Mount Etna, 3,300 meters high, is the biggest active volcano in Europe, with frequent eruptions recorded in the past 2,700 years.

Ashes coated streets and sidewalks in the mountain towns of Zafferana Etnea and Santa Venerina.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck at 3:19 a.m.in Acitrezza which is located north of Catania, the largest city in the eastern part of the Mediterranean island.

Italy's national seismology institute said the quake had a magnitude of 4.8 on the open-ended Richter scale and 4.9 on the moment magnitude scale, which relates to the amount the ground slips.

Debris of a partially collapsed house sits on the street in Fleri, Sicily, after an quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano.

Debris stand near the damaged structure of a Church in Fleri Sicily Italy Wednesday Dec. 26 2018. A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee
Debris stand near the damaged structure of a Church in Fleri Sicily Italy. Source Associated Press

"Etna remains a unsafe volcano, and this country of ours is unfortunately fragile", government undersecretary Vito Crimi told The Associated Press, adding there were no fatalities and 10 slight injuries. In another house, a ceiling collapsed.

One elderly woman suffered multiple fractures, while 18 other people made their way to hospital on their own to be treated for minor cuts and shock.

An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a house, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

A smoke column comes out of the Etna volcano in Catania, Italy, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018.

Volcanic ash had earlier covered nearby villages, and flights to and from Catania airport had to be halted temporarily.

Video and images were posted on social media.

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