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Etna eruption forces closure of Sicily’s Catania airport

Etna eruption forces closure of Sicily's Catania airport
Source: Video Screenshot

The airport at Catania in Sicily, a top Italian tourist destination, has halted all flights after a new eruption at nearby Mount Etna, its operator said Monday.

“Because of an eruption at Etna and falling ash, flights are suspended until 8:00 pm (1800 GMT),” the airport said on its website.

Earlier Monday, it had said departures and arrivals had been halted until just 1:00 pm.

Catania’s Mayor Enrico Trantino has also prohibited the use of motorcycles and bicycles for the next 48 hours, “because several areas are covered with a layer of volcanic ash”, city hall said on its website.

The ash can quickly become slippery on roads and increase the risk of accidents.

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.

Most recently, Catania airport was closed for a day on May 21 due to an eruption.

Around 10 million passengers last year transited through the airport, which serves the eastern part of Sicily.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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