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Lava and Black Ash Pour Out of Italy's Mount Etna - 2002-10-28


Europe's most active volcano, Mount Etna, is erupting boiling hot lava and black ash. The latest activity follows dozens of small quakes below the Italian volcano's surface.

So far no town is in danger. In the city of Catania, people are using umbrellas to shield themselves from the rain of black ash.

Authorities have closed down the airport, because ash-coated runways have made flight departures and landings impossible. City authorities also have banned the use of motor scooters after many accidents were reported Monday morning. A number of schools have been closed.

As the lava began to flow down the mountain on both the northern and southern sides of the volcano, it swallowed buildings and toppled power lines and ski-lift pylons. The area of Piano Provenzana, popular with hikers, had to be evacuated.

Emergency rescue teams are working to ensure that the rivers of boiling lava remain at a safe distance from the towns on the mountain. Water-carrying planes and helicopters are making every effort to put out fires that are raging near a pine forest on the northern side.

Seismologists say dozens of earth tremors underneath the volcano have been registered since Sunday. They say the eruptions are likely to continue this week, although they have noticed diminishing seismic activity.

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