Mt Etna eruption spectacular, captured on video

Mt Etna eruption: Europe's most active volcano, Mt. Etna, blew Saturday lighting up the night sky in eastern Sicily.

By , Associated Press

 Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, has erupted again, lighting up the sky over much of eastern Sicily and shooting up a towering column of ash.

The eruption, which began late Saturday and tapered off Sunday morning, didn't endanger any of the villages dotting the mountain's slopes, and no evacuation was ordered.

The airport in nearby Catania said air space above the volcano was closed to flights, but that the airport itself was operating normally, including takeoffs and departures.

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The US Geological Survey notes that volcanic ash can be a nuisance and extremely damaging to aircraft and other machinery.

Volcanic ash is a great nuisance and gets everywhere in the house and office, including inside televisions, computers, cameras and other valuable equipment, where it can cause irreparable damage. Ash is different from ordinary house dust. Its sharp, crystalline structure causes it to scratch and abrade surfaces when it is removed by wiping or brushing. In wet weather the ash deposits are dampened down and the air can be clear, but in drier weather ash can easily be stirred up and remobilised by wind and traffic. As a result suspended dust levels become much higher and can be at levels potentially harmful to health. Rainfall and wind are effective in removing the ash and grass and other plants will eventually bind it to the soil, but with large ash falls this process is too slow and the ash must be cleaned up and taken away from populated areas. In addition, wind may also bring ash into areas which were previously clean so ash may be present in the environment for months or even years following an eruption.

Etna erupts occasionally. Its last major eruption occurred in 1992.

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