Europe's biggest volcano, situated in Sicily, an island at the southern tip of Italy, has erupted spewing lava and an ash cloud which is reaching 5,000 metres into the air.
The Daily Mail reports that the Mount Etna, the most highly active volcano on the European continent, burst into life on Jan 6. Lava is flowing from a new crater on the southeast side of the summit.
Experts say that currently, the eruption poses no danger to people or property and flights into and out of the nearby Catania airport have not as yet been affected. Emergency procedures are always in place and evacuations can be quickly accomplished should it become necessary.
Volcano Live reports that Etna has the " longest period of documented eruptions in the world" The volcano erupts virtually every year. It is the tallest volcano in Europe currently 3,329 metres high. The circumference of its base is 140 kilometres. The Roman poet Virgil wrote of an eruption of the volcano in his work 'Aeneid' and it has been a big feature in Italian, and especially Sicilian, history.
2011 saw a large number of eruptions starting in July and this latest eruption may just be the first of 2012 with more to follow.