Pompeii of the 20th Century

Since the begining Christian chronology, 150 strong eruptions of the Etna volcano have been registered. It is astonishing, but the eruptions occur at the moments when the volcano seems to be perfectly quiet. That is why people think it’s no use to follow weather forecasts; however, when Etna remains quiet for rather long periods, people people become very nervous.

Over a thousand people from settlements close to Etna volcano on the Italian island of Sicily had to leave their homes because of the continuous dangerous volcano eruptions. On Tuesday, a severe earthquake near the city of Catania seriously damaged some parts of the city. For fear of more earthquakes, educational institutions and the airport are closed in Catania. People are being given special masks, as doctors say that the air in the city became dangerous to the eyes and dangerous to breath after the earthquakes. Lava is still streaming down the southern and north-eastern slopes of Mount Etna. In some areas, it has already reached settlements. Buildings in the Mount Etna area have been damaged by the earthquake on Tuesday. About one hundred houses were slightly damaged by the earthquake of 3.6 to 4 points on the Richter scale in the town of Santa Venerina, at the foot of the volcano. People were evacuated from their homes near the volcano until the buildings are checked for structural damage; these people have been given refuge in nearby hotels.

A vessel with a medical clinic on board is sitting in the port of Catania; if necessary, people can receive medical aid there. The Italian authorities decided to declare a state of emergency for the Mount Etna area.

This Etna eruption is really very strong, as satellite photos showed ash drifing as far away as Libya and North Africa. Etna, 3,340 meters high, is Europe’s largest and most active volcano. The four largest eruptions have been registered in the Etna area within the last 309 years. The most recent started with a 100-meter burst of ash, stones, and fire at the end of the previous week. About 200 shocks preceded the eruption.

Etna is also famous for its great number of eruptions. This unusual volcano has caused much trouble to the people of Sicily. The central upper crater of the volcano is stuffed with masses of rock. Until now, Etna was incapable of breaking through the stopper, which is why eruptions broke only through side craters and holes, which are sometimes called “parasitic cones.” Some of the cones are so big that they could be even taken for separate volcanoes in other areas.

Etna’s largest eruption was registered in 1669, when 830 million cubic meters of lava streamed down Etna for four months. Seventy one eruptions of Etna have registered before the last eruption; 26 eruptions occurred before 1900. Etna has been active over ten times during the 20th century. Yegor Belous PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/1/last_news_3.html

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