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Smoke and ash billow from Mount Etna framed by the Sicilian town of Zafferana earlier today. Carmelo Imbesi/AP

Minor eruptions at Mount Etna mark first activity of 2012

Sicilians woke up to see plumes of smoke from the active volcano this morning, though there has been no flight disruption.

EUROPE’S MOST ACTIVE volcano, Mount Etna in Sicily, has erupted for the first time in 2012.

Locals in Sicily woke up this morning to see ash plumes of up to 5,000 metres above sea level.

Observers said the eruption was ‘powerful and clearly visible’ from a distance, Sicilian news reported, but did not affect residential areas.

Seismologists said the level of activity was “critically high”, but that they had ended after a few hours without any major effects.

Vulcanologists observed that the eruption caused lava to flow from a previously unobserved crater.

Officials held crisis meetings at local airports, but flights were not affected by the plume of ash emerging from the volcano.

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