Eruption of Mount Etna causes travel mayhem in Sicily


Sicily’s Mount Etna erupted over the weekend, leading to mass flight cancellations and adding to travel woes in the city of Catania that began last month with a fire at the local airport.  

One of Sicily’s most distinctive features and popular tourist attractions, Mount Etna, is causing major trouble for the neighbouring city of Catania after erupting on the evening of Sunday 13th August.  

Just ahead of Italy’s biggest bank holiday, Ferragosto, ash from the 3,300-metre-high volcano caused more than a day of significant flight disruptions, delays and cancellations, and forced a near-total closing of the local airport.  

Though the airport is now operational again, airlines are advising passengers to check with them ahead of travel to make sure their flights are on track.  

Incoming flights to Sicily’s second largest airport were diverted on Sunday to other airports on the island, marking the second time in a month that passenger flights were disrupted there.

On Sunday 16th July, a fire broke out in the airport’s Terminal A, leading to the nearly three weeks of closure that was required to repair damage. This reportedly caused an estimated loss for hoteliers of 40,000 “nights of accommodation” from tourists.  


The eruption is now over, but the city, which lies about 50 kilometres from Etna, now has the mammoth task of cleaning the fallen ash from its streets.  

The city knew something was coming in the days before the eruption as Etna was emitting tell-tale gas rings, a rare occurrence of gas bubbles being pushed through the narrow shaft of the volcano that causes puffs of gas to form above the top in a ring shape.  

Europe’s most active volcano, Etna has now entered what Italian authorities call a “pre-alert” phase. The last major eruption was in 1992. 


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Photo source: Anastasiia Rozumna, Unsplash