Mount Etna spews lava in new eruption as Sicily airport is closed

Italy’s Mount Etna spews out lava and blows out smoke rings in first eruption since 1992 – bringing Sicily’s Catania airport to a close and suspending flights

  • Dozens of flights to the island from Britain were cancelled or diverted
  • The ancient volcano was seen spewing hot ash and lava overnight
  • While the lava has stopped flowing, ash is still pouring out of one of its craters 

Italy’s Mount Etna has brought planes leaving the Sicilian city of Catania to a standstill after it was captured spewing hot lava and ash overnight. 

The airport, which sits on the east of the Mediterranean island just 30 miles south of the volcano, said that flights to and from the hub would be suspended until at least 8 pm local time tonight. 

The volcano was seen blowing smoke rings out of its crater as early as last Thursday.

The eruption, which is the first seen from Mount Etna since 1992, saw lava flow until just before dawn, though ash is still coming out of one of its craters. 

Several British flights to the island have either been cancelled or diverted to nearby airports. 

The eruption saw lava flow until just before dawn, though ash is still coming out of one of its craters

The volcano was seen blowing smoke rings out of its crater as early as last Thursday

Catania’s mayor has banned its citizens from using motorcycles or bicycles due to the heavy presence of ash

The mayor is also enforcing a city-wide 19 mph speed limit for cars and other road vehicles

Ryanair was forced to divert seven of its flights to Trapini Airport, on the far west of the island. 

The budget airline told its passengers: ‘Due to the eruption of Mount Etna, we would like to advise all passengers traveling to and from Catania on 14 August of possible delays, diversion or cancellations to flights.

‘Affected passengers will be notified as soon as possible..

‘Ryanair understands the disruptions to passengers resulting from delays, diversions, or cancellations; the situation is unfortunately outside of our control, and we thank you for your patience.’

Meanwhile, two easyJet flights from Gatwick were immediately affected, with one arriving seven hours behind schedule and at Comisio Airport, 93 miles away from the intended destination, while another was cancelled entirely.

Two more, flying out of Luton on Monday, are set to be diverted to Comiso as well. 

Travelers were left to deal with chaos as flights to and from across the world were cancelled or diverted following the eruption

Several British airlines, including Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways, were forced divert or cancel flights

An easyJet spokesperson told the Independent: ‘Due to the eruption of Mount Etna and the subsequent ash cloud close to its runway, Catania airport is currently closed.

‘Like all airlines operating into Catania, easyJet is currently unable to operate many of its scheduled flights to and from the airport today. We have rerouted some of our flights to operate into Comiso airport today.

‘Unfortunately it is not clear when normal operations will resume.’

British Airways was forced to cancel a 7:10 am departure from Gatwick, with a spokesperson for the airline saying: ‘​Due to the closure of Catania airport, we’ve had to cancel our flight due to operate today.

The volcano was seen blowing smoke rings out of its crater as early as last Thursday

1992 was the last time Mount Etna, on the west of Sicily, erupted

‘We continue to monitor the situation and have been in contact with customers to apologise and offer options including rebooking with us or another airline, or a full refund.’

The city’s mayor, Enrico Trantino, also banned the use of motorcycles and bicycles, and has set a city-wide speed limit of just 19 mph for the next 48 hours, as the city’s streets are covered in ash that could vehicles to skid and crash. 

Catania Airport’s closure comes just days after it reopened following a major fire at a terminal building last month, which led to weeks of disruption for passengers. 

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