Etna eruption forces further closure of Catania airport

The airport at Catania in Sicily, a top Italian tourist destination, has halted all flights after a new eruption at nearby Mount Etna, its operator said Monday.

“Because of an eruption at Etna and falling ash, flights are suspended until 8pm (1800 GMT),” the airport said on its website.

Earlier Monday, it had said departures and arrivals had been halted until just 1pm.

“For information on diverted or cancelled flights, please contact the airlines or check the situation in real time on the airport website www.aeroporto.catania.it and on the airport’s Facebook and Twitter profiles,” reads a statement.

Airspace sectors C1 and B3 will remain closed, authorities stated, meaning that all arrivals and departures are blocked.

Catania’s Mayor Enrico Trantino has also prohibited the use of motorcycles and bicycles for the next 48 hours, “because several areas are covered with a layer of volcanic ash”, city hall said on its website.

The ash can quickly become slippery on roads and increase the risk of accidents.

At 3,324 metres (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.

Most recently, Catania airport was closed for a day on May 21st due to its eruption.

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