INTRODUCTION: Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, continued to send out slicks of red hot lava on Wednesday (18 March), 24 hours after erupting on the island of Sicily.
SVs Lava running down from Mount Etna. (2 SHOTS)
SV PAN Building on fire.
SV Trees and bushes on fire.
TV PAN Nearby town.
SV PULL BACK TO GV Lava spilling onto railway track next to railway station.
SV PAN Lava causing fires near house.
GV PAN Stunned trees in field with fires in background.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, continued to send out slicks of red hot lava on Wednesday (18 March), 24 hours after erupting on the island of Sicily. However, government officials said there seemed to be no immediate danger to life, although a later eruption threatened, but did not reach, the village of Randazzo.
SYNOPSIS: Rivers of molten lava poured from the rim of the mountain, as volcano experts watched from helicopters and light aircraft. The lava and burning ash set fire to fields and scrubland in its path, and officials said some rural houses and summer retreats had been destroyed. Two main molten streams surged from the volcano's crater.
One of these headed towards the nearby Alcantara River, while the second stopped higher up the mountain. Vulcanologists kept watch for several days after many tremors and explosions inside its craters had shaken the countryside. More than 500 small quakes were reported in the 24-hours before the eruption. The main lava flow burst through about 2000 metres, (6,500 feet) up the crater.
In Randazzo, troops and firemen came to help evacuate the 250 residents. The people were later allowed to return when it became clear the boiling stream was changing course. Lava engulfed part of Etna's scenic railway and cut the panoramic road between Randazzo and Linguaglossa.
In a previous freak eruption in September 1979, nine tourists died as a build-up of gas beneath the surface of the western crater exploded. Experts saw no early danger of fatalities this time.