After 11:30 a.m., the volcanic crater standing 2,700 meters high has roared for the second time, throwing tons of lava and sediment high in the air.
Mount Etna, the largest volcano in Europe, has erupted for the third time in less than three weeks and has spewed molten lava up to 200 meters high.
Ten people — two of whom were volcanologists working in the town of Cisternazza, on the southern slope of the volcano — were slightly injured by the explosion. Only six of the injured were transferred to hospitals in Catania and Acireale. However, the situation is under control and there have been no serious injuries so far reported.
Despite the spectacular nature of the phenomenon, the eruption of Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, has no special features in its activity pattern. In fact, the last processes, which occurred in December of 2016 and May of 2015, were much more violent than this morning’s eruption. The explosion has occurred when the snow deposited on the surface of the crater has formed a kind of cover that has finished leaving farewell.
Stefano Branca, a member of the Institute of Geology and Volcanology of Italy (INGV), was in the area at the time of the eruption. In a telephone conversation, he explained the cause of the spectacular explosion.
“It’s nothing special, the last one was on February 27th and this is the second time it’s happening,” he stated.
He added that this time, the volcanic eruption has chosen an area covered in snow. The snow, therefore, evaporated hastily and created a massive amount of steam, which actually caused the explosion.
“It is like when you make pasta and close the lid with the pot,” explains Branca.
The phenomenon is known as groundwater explosion, and it occurs when a high-temperature lava mass comes into contact with a colder object such as water or snow. In this case, the explosion has blown the blocks of lava and stony ground that covered the crater since the last eruption.
“It lasts a second, but if you’re close, it can hurt you,” White continued.
A BBC team and tourists were affected by the major explosion. As a result, some were wounded and the place was immediately evacuated. The BBC team reports that it felt like we were being hit by “burning stones and steam.”
Caught up in incident at Mount Etna - bbc crew & tourists caught up in huge explosion - caused injuries and evacuation from scene. (1)— Rebecca Morelle (@BBCMorelle) March 16, 2017
Morelle explained that the injured people had “burns, cuts, and bruises,” remarking that the volcanologist stated that this explosion “has been the most dangerous incident in his 30-year career.” The BBC team is well aware, but the experience has been “extremely chilling.”
Many injured - some head injuries, burns, cuts and bruises. Volcanologist said most dangerous incident experience in his 30 year career (3)— Rebecca Morelle (@BBCMorelle) March 16, 2017
The reporter has highlighted the rapid intervention of the rescue team. What happened is “a reminder of how dangerous and unpredictable volcanoes can be.”
“We were all very lucky to escape,” she admitted.
Reminder of how dangerous & unpredictable volcanoes can be - everyone had a very lucky escape. (7)— Rebecca Morelle (@BBCMorelle) March 16, 2017
The lava from the eruption comes from a crater in the southeastern part of the Sicilian mountain, 3,000 meters above sea level. Etna is located in the eastern part of the island of Sicily, between the provinces of Messina and Catania, and its last eruption was recorded on February 28. The eruption, recorded by the INGV, does not threaten residential areas, nor is it expected to interfere with air traffic.
The organization released images of lava and ash explosions in a crater on the southeast slope of the volcano, an explosion that reached 200 meters high.
Etna, which is 3,322 meters high and is the most active in Europe, is located in the eastern part of the island of Sicily, between the provinces of Messina and Catania, and its last eruption was recorded on 28 February.
[Featured Image by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images]