Volcanic eruption at Mount Etna in Italy injures 10 people, including BBC crew

Sriparna Ghosh
Mount Etna

Ten people were injured in a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna of Sicily in Italy on Thursday (March 16), when the flowing magma came in contact with the snow, triggering an explosion that sent rocks and stones flying into the air.

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Among the 20 injured were crew members of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Six of them were taken to hospitals in Catania and nearby Acireale as they suffered minor injuries.

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According to media reports, Nino Borzi, the mayor of Nicolosi, the closest residential area on the island of Sicily, said that there were around 35 people in the area close to the explosion near the summits of Europe's biggest active volcano. The explosion came from a crater on the south-eastern side of the 3,000-metre peak.

BBC's global science correspondent, Rebecca Morelle, who was part of the team on the volcano at the time of the eruption, tweeted that getting pelted with stones from an erupting volcano was an experience that she would not like to have again.

While Morelle said the blast caused head injuries, burns, cuts and bruises, another volcanologist told her it was the most dangerous incident he had experienced in his 30-year career.

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This was the third incident at Mt. Etna, which overlooks the city of Catania, in a span of three weeks. It spewed lava almost 200 metres into the sky.

"It's difficult to say whether this has been the most dangerous eruption in 30 years," Stefano Branca, a volcanologist at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, told Guardian. "But if it had happened in August, when there isn't any snow, it wouldn't have been as significant. This type of eruption is an exception."

Mount Etna, which was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2013, had faced a major eruption in 1992 when the town of Zafferana Etnea was in the path of the lava flow. Though some homes were buried by the lava, there was no loss of life.

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