Ash Cloud Fears As Italy's Mt Etna Erupts

Europe's highest active volcano has erupted, spewing a column of hot ash high into the sky.

The 3,295m (10,810ft) peak on the Mediterranean island of Sicily regularly awakens to blast out lava and ash.

Eruptions sometimes last for days at a time and can force the closure of Catania airport.

The volcano rumbled back to life on Wednesday night, prompting a crisis meeting at Catania as a column of ash up to 5,000m (over 16,000ft) above sea level filled the sky.

However, flights have not had to be cancelled so far.

Lava was also seen flowing from a new crater on the southeast side of the summit toward the uninhabited Valle del Bove region, according to the Catania Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology.