Mt Etna roars to life

22:33, Jan 05 2012
Mt Etna, January 5
ANGRY ETNA: Mount Etna spews volcanic ash, January 5, 2012.

Sicily's Mount Etna has erupted, spewing lava and volcanic ash into the sky.

Europe's tallest and most active volcano started erupting at 4.34am local time (4.43pm Thursday NZT).

Researchers at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the lava flow centred on the summit area of the volcano, originating from the New South East Crater.

According to Italy's official Ansa news agency the volcano later sent out out a 5000-metre-high column of volcanic ash.

The eruption presented no risk to villages nearby and air traffic remained normal, local media reported.

Etna, which is located above the Sicilian town of Catania, often erupts but rarely causes damage.

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Reuters