Mt Etna spews ash, closing Catania airport


Air Malta cancels Sunday's and Monday's flights

Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, belched smoke and ashes in a new eruption on Sunday, forcing the closure of a nearby airport on Sicily.

"Due to the eruptive activity of Etna and copious amounts of volcanic ash on the airport surfaces, flight operations are suspended until safety conditions are restored," Catania airport said in a statement.

Loud rumbles could be heard in the region from early Sunday, the Repubblica daily said.

But heavy cloud around the volcano's summit made it impossible to see the eruptions, the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology said.

At 3,324 metres (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.

Around 10 million passengers last year transited through Catania International Airport, which services the eastern part of Sicily, one of Italy's most popular tourist destinations.

Air Malta cancels flights

Air Malta said that owing to the airport closures its flights to and from Catania on Sunday and Monday had been cancelled. Customers booked on these flights will be able to either rebook to travel on an alternative flight by contacting the Air Malta Customer Service Centre on 00356 21662211 or to receive a full ticket refund by emailing For any flights booked through a travel agent, customers should contact their travel agent who can submit a refund request on their behalf. 

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