The latest earthquake set off by the ongoing eruption of Mount Etna has been the most powerful in recent days.
The epicenter of the 4.8-magnitude quake that struck Sicily today (Dec. 26) was just north of the city of Catania. It was strong enough that it damaged buildings across Catania and in nearby villages such as Fleri, injuring at least 28 people.
Mount Etna, the most active volcano in Europe, first started erupting on Dec. 24, spewing ash and lava onto Catania and its surrounding villages and temporarily closing part of the airspace over Sicily. The eruption, which occurred on the side of the volcano rather than the summit—the first “lateral eruption” there in a decade—caused more than 100 small- to mid-range earthquakes of up to 4.3 magnitude on the first day alone.
Though eruptions at Mount Etna and their attendant tremors are common, the new seismic activity is particularly strong. Members of the Italian national institute for geophysics and volcanology (INGV) told The Guardian that the activity was “worrying” and “potentially dangerous.”
“Tremors during eruptions are pretty normal here,” Gaetano Maenza, who is part of the Italian professional association of nature and lives near the volcano, also told The Guardian. “What is unusual is the level of magnitude triggered by Etna. I have no memory of such intensity. It was scary.”