SHAKEN

Mount Etna’s latest eruption has set off unusually powerful earthquakes in Sicily

The damage.
The damage.
Image: Reuters/Antonio Parrinello
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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.”

Italy's Mount Etna spews the ash and smoke in Sicily, Italy December 24, 2018. in this still image from a video obtained by Reuters TV on December 24, 2018. REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RC1BF4246D50
Mount Etna spewing ash and smoke on Dec. 24.
Image: Reuters TV
Debris of a partially collapsed house sit on the street in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)
A partially collapsed house in Fleri, Sicily.
Image: AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra
People walk in front of the heavily damaged church of Maria Santissima in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)
The damage to the church of Maria Santissima.
Image: AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra
Italian Civil protection volunteers gather near the heavily damaged church of Maria Santissima as plumes of smoke come out the Mount Enta Volcano in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)
Italian Civil protection volunteers gather near the church of Maria Santissima as plumes of smoke come out of Mount Enta in Fleri, Sicily.
Image: AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra
Cracks are seen on a wall of a damaged house in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)
Damage to a house in Fleri, Sicily.
Image: AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra
A man carries his belongings as he walks past debris of a partially collapsed house in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)
The quake forced many villagers to flee their homes.
Image: AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra
St. Agata church is seen damaged by an earthquake, measuring magnitude 4.8, at the area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello - RC17E4839A30
St. Agata church.
Image: Reuters/Antonio Parrinello
Fire fighters are seen next to a house damaged by an earthquake, measuring magnitude 4.8, at the area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello - RC1F9DC0BF00
Firefighters amid damaged homes.
Image: Reuters/Antonio Parrinello