Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, began spewing smoke and ash in a new eruption on Sunday, forcing the closure of Catania Airport in Sicily.
“Due to the eruptive activity of Etna and the abundant amounts of volcanic ash that have fallen on the airport, flight operations are suspended until safety conditions are restored,” Catania airport said in a statement.
Loud rumblings had been heard in the area since Sunday morning, the Italian daily La Repubblica said.
Heavy clouds around the volcano’s summit have impaired visibility, hiding ash discharges into the atmosphere, the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) said.
Rising to 3,324 metres (10,000 feet), Etna is Europe’s tallest active volcano. Over the past 500,000 years, it has erupted frequently.
Last year, about 10 million passengers passed through Catania International Airport, which serves eastern Sicily, one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.