By Hannah Masterson
Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, Mt Etna, has begun spewing out lava and volcanic ash in its first eruption of 2012.
The stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily rumbled back to life at 4.34am local time today, prompting a crisis meeting in Catania.
Reports have said that flights have not been cancelled and nearby villages are not in danger.
According to reports, the volcano sent up a column of ash as high as 5,000m (over 16,000ft) that filled the sky.
Mt Etna’s eruptions sometimes last for days at a time and can force the closure of Catania’s airport.
Researchers at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the lava flow centred in the summit area of the volcano, originating from the New South East Crater.
Italy are no strangers to volcanic eruptions. Mt Etna’s 3,295m (10,810ft) peak on the Mediterranean island of Sicily regularly awakens to blast out lava and ash.