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Italy's Etna spews ash anew, airports briefly shut

Mount Etna spews lava on the southern Italian island of Sicily January 13, 2011. Mount Etna is Europe's tallest and most active volcano. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s volcanic Mount Etna spewed plumes of ash and sent lava down its slopes on Thursday, forcing authorities to close airports briefly during the night.

The two airports in Catania, at the base of the volcano, were reopened but civil aviation authority ENAC said it was still monitoring Etna’s increased activity and ash emissions.

Volcanology institute INGV said Etna’s regular seismic activity had increased on Wednesday prior to the latest eruption, which has been minor so far.

Etna, Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, erupts regularly but usually causes little damage to inhabited areas.

Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by Mark Heinrich