4.8 quake hits area near Sicily’s Mount Etna

4.8 quake hits area near Sicily's Mount Etna

4.8 quake hits area near Sicily’s Mount Etna

An natural disaster measuring 4.8 in magnitude hit Sicily in the early hours of this morning, injuring four people and damaging historic buildings.

The national institute for geophysics and vulcanology (INGV) said the quake happened in the middle of the night and was only 1km deep.

Despite the closure of a part of the highway running along the coast, the airport at the eastern city of Catania, the capital of the province, was open.

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

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

The Wednesday quake comes just a day after Mount Etna erupted from a fresh fissure, sending plumes of smoke into the air.

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A blanket of volcanic ash also covered nearby villages, which ground planes to a halt at Catania airport temporarily. It was the "first lateral eruption for more than ten years, but it does not seem to be unsafe ", said Behncke.

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Italian media are reporting panic among local residents, many of whom run out into the streets.

The quake was also felt in the upmarket Sicilian resort town of Taormina.

Mt Etna on Sicily, locally called "Mongibello", is Europe's largest and most active volcano. A new fracture has opened near Etna's southeast crater and lava has been flowing down an uninhabited slope.

Some rural homes were damaged and a statue in a church in the town of Santa Venerina collapsed. It was the most violent eruption in two decades.

Italian firefighters gather in front of a damaged house in Fleri, Sicily, after the quake sparked by an eruption at Mount Etna.

"From a scientific point of view, we're dealing with an isolated event", Angelo Borrelli told Sky TG24 TV.

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