Chunks of volcanic ash rain down in Sicily after Italy’s Mount Etna erupts

Image of Mount Etna erupting in Sicily.

Image of Mount Etna erupting in Sicily, Italy. Credit: Austin Ingram - US Navy/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Volcanic ash has been falling from the sky on the Italian island of Sicily today, Sunday, May 21, after Mount Etna erupted again.

According to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, this has occurred in at least one town located on the slopes of Europe’s most active volcano. Residents of Catania, eastern Sicily’s largest city, also found ash raining down on them.

As a result of reduced visibility, officials at the island’s Catania Airport grounded all flights for the time being. The weather in Sicily was already wet and cloudy so the materials thrown up by the volcano only added to the murky skies.

A post on the facility’s Facebook page read: “Catania Airport: operations suspended until tomorrow morning, Monday 22nd of May. Due to the consequences of Etna’s erratic activity on the conditions of the runway, flight operations remain suspended until tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock or until safety conditions are fully restored”.

It continued: “Any updates will be communicated in due time. Passengers are asked to inform themselves about the status of their flight with the airlines and to go to the airport only in case of confirmed flight schedule”.

“Information on the general operations of the airport is available on the official website of the Scalo, and on the airport’s Facebook and Twitter profiles”, it concluded.

Today’s eruption should not have come as a surprise to anybody in Sicily. An alert was issued last Thursday 18 by Italy’s Civil Protection Agency. It warned residents of possible ‘sudden’ variations’ in Etna’s mood after increased seismic activity was registered in recent days.

There have been no reports of injuries as a result of the incident. Before the volcano erupted, loud booms had been reported coming from the volcano by residents of the east coast cities of Biancavilla and Adrano, as reported by

Images posted on social media showed a covering of volcanic ash on the streets and car windscreens in the town of Nicolosi. Pieces of cardboard and blankets were subsequently used by the locals to cover the vehicles in an attempt to protect them from any damage.

Boris Behncke, a volcanologist, tweeted @etnaboris, along with images of the fallen volcanic ash: “The effects of the ‘secret’ paroxysm at #Etna‘s Southeast Crater on 21 May 2023. Invisible due to horrible weather conditions, the event showered the SW flank of the volcano with ash and lapilli. Ash later fell also on the south flank, interrupting operations at Catania airport”.

Etna is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and towers impressively above the Mediterranean holiday destination at a height of 3,330 metres (10,925 ft).

It erupts regularly, sending spectacular streams of lava down its slopes. The last major eruption however was back in 1992.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at