Mount Etna: 4.8-magnitude natural disaster jolts Sicily

An quake with a magnitude of 4.8 hit an area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily early on Wednesday, damaging buildings and injuring about 30 people, officials said.

About 30 people were injured, several old buildings were damaged and highways were shut down in the aftermath of the latest quake that hit at 3:19 a.m.

Amid the busy holiday season, Mount Etna's eruption led to the closure of Catania airport on Sicily's eastern coast because of the heavy ash that was sent into the sky.

At least 300 tremors rattled the slopes of the volcanic mountain during a three-hour span early Monday, including a magnitude 4.3 seismic shake, Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported.

Government undersecretary Vito Crimi said there were no fatalities and 10 slight injuries. A ceiling collapsed in another house, and in other homes parts of exterior walls crumbled.

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Debris of a partially collapsed house sits on the street in Fleri, Sicily, after an quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano.

A woman told state radio that a heavy armoire in her home had toppled over, trapping her sister, who was then safely pulled out by her father.

Mount Etna has been particularly active since July, with experts in Italy saying the volcano has been growing faster recently.

The Civil Protection agency said temporary shelters were being set up in gyms or municipal buildings for people whose houses were damaged or who were too frightened to return to their homes.

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