Mt. Etna in Sicily Has Erupted — Here’s What You Need to Know

Jun 1, 2019

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On Friday night, Mount Etna — an active volcano in Sicily — spewed glowing red lava from two fissures, lighting up the night sky. Could the eruptions affect your travel plans?

The highest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna lies on the eastern part of Sicily, near Catania. According to the Express, it is considered “one of the safest volcanoes in the world” even though small eruptions like this one can occur several times a year. As a hotspot for seismic activity, the area is also prone to earthquakes.

In January, for example, a series of earthquakes caused 100 million Euros of damage in the area surrounding Mt. Etna, and in February, an eruption caused the closure of Catania’s airport. An eruption like the one that just occurred wouldn’t necessarily shut down the airport, but if volcanic ash pollutes the air and diminishes visibility for the pilots, flights could be disrupted or the airport might be forced to close. For now at least, that’s not the case, but if you have plans to travel to Catania, you should monitor the situation.

There are no direct flights to Catania from the US, but major European airlines — including budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet — connect it to the rest of Europe. It’s one of two major airports in Sicily. The other is in Palermo, on the northwestern side of the island.

Eugenio Privitera, Director of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcani (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanoes), told the Italian newspaper La Stampa, “We are at the beginning of a new eruptive phase of Etna that could finish soon or continue for months. The phenomenons are all confined to the summit of the volcano and don’t constitute a danger to inhabited places or people, but it’s necessary to control the flow of tourists in the area for their safety.”

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Photo by ALESSIO TRICANI/AFP/Getty Images

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