Mount Etna eruption grounds flights at Sicily’s Catania airport
Flights to and from the popular port city Catania in Sicily will resume at 9am on Monday after being grounded when nearby Mount Etna erupted.
The active volcano spewed ash onto the airport’s runways and planes on Sunday, halting all flights to and from Catania and causing chaos for travellers.
One passenger described the airport as “hell” while another family member worried about their elderly father being stuck at the airport for hours.
More than 50 flights were cancelled or diverted, according to reports, with airspace in the region closed.
Cars could be seen blanketed in ash and grey skies clouded the eastern city, photos posted to social media showed, after the latest eruption from Italy’s most active volcano.
In a Twitter post on Monday morning the airport said flights would resume from 9am. Passengers were warned of delays and urged to check their flight status with the airline.
The 3,330 metre-high volcano can burst into action several times a year, firing lava and ash high over the Mediterranean island. The last major eruption was in 1992.
One traveller reported a “pretty uncomfortable drive” from Palermo to Noto with black volcanic sand covering the windscreen.
Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and the largest of three volcanos in Italy.
The volcano was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2013 and attracts thousands of visitors a year.
Ten people including a BBC crew were injured when it erupted in 2017. Footage from the moment captured huge clouds of smoke and steam billowing fom the top of the camera before people began running in fear to escape flying rocks.
Millions of tourists have flocked back to Sicily following the Covid pandemic, with the region seeing a sharp increase in travellers in 2022.