Mount Etna erupted for a second time in eight days
, sending a layer of ash onto the homes of residents in eastern Sicily living in the shadow of Europe's most active volcano.
The eruption occurred Saturday, forcing local authorities to temporarily close a nearby highway and several air corridors out of the nearby Catania airport due to the black ash and rocks that spewed down from the volcano. Air traffic out of the airport, however, was not interrupted as a result of Mount Etna's eruption, the Associated Press reported
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Residents in nearby towns were reportedly forced to either stay indoors or walk about with an umbrella in hand to prevent the small black hail-like pebbles from raining down on them. The ash and pebble storm on Saturday lasted for 45 minutes, according to witnesses, and in the process covered cars, roads, and beaches with the layer of soot like the inside of a chimney.
One witness of the eruption was Italian film maker Turi Scandurra, who was visiting his native town of Giardini-Naxos, which consists of 10,000 residents and is situated less than 20 miles away from Mount Etna, The Daily Mail reported
"As soon as it started I was trying to film the build-up on my terrace, then I looked up and the sky was huge and black. I covered my head with a sweatshirt and went out, the 32-year-old film maker told The Daily Mail.
"The ash is not heavy but it's extremely sharp. Many cars got scratched and windshields got chipped as the stones are quite big," Scandurra added. "Ash falls from the sky about once a year but never this strongly. Usually we have some little dust but you don't get these big stones."
Mount Etna last erupted Nov. 16, into the early morning hours the following day. There were no massive ash storms reported as a result of the last eruption. So far this year, Mount Etna has reportedly erupted 17 times.
Covering an area of 459 square miles, Mount Etna is also the tallest volcano in the continent, standing at nearly 11,000 feet high. It is two and a half the times the height of the next largest volcano, Mount Vesuvius, in the Gulf of Naples.
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