4.8 quake hits area near Sicily's Mount Etna

by Garry Watts December 27, 2018, 0:40
4.8 quake hits area near Sicily's Mount Etna

Mt Etna on Sicily, locally called "Mongibello", is Europe's largest and most active volcano.

The 4.8 magnitude natural disaster early Wednesday damaged some rural homes, including structures that had been abandoned years ago, toppled a statue in a church in the town of Santa Venerina and opened up cracks on a highway, which was closed for inspection.

Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanos, has been erupting since Monday and sending volcanic ash and heavy smoke in the air.

It toppled a Madonna statue in a church in Santa Venerina and broke up sidewalks and a stretch of highway, forcing it to close.

The quake, which struck at 3.19am local time, was part of a series of some 1,000 mostly weak tremors, according to Italy's Civil Protection officials.

At least 300 tremors rattled the slopes of the volcanic mountain during a three-hour span early Monday, including a magnitude 4.3 seismic shake, Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported.

Smoke rises near the city of Catania during an eruption of the Mount Etna one of the most active volcanoes in the world
Volcanic ash forces overnight closure of Catania airport

The most seriously injured by the quake was a 70-year-old man who fractured ribs and was undergoing surgery for chest injuries.

Debris of a partially collapsed house sit on the street in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Additionally, 18 other people went to local hospitals suffering from panic attacks or shock, news reports said.

A woman told state radio that a heavy wardrobe in her home had toppled over, trapping her sister, who was then safely pulled out by her father.

The ash plume, which began to emerge at around noon yesterday, disrupted flights at nearby Catania airport.

Pictures of damaged buildings have been posted on social media.

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