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Mount Etna and Stromboli Eruptions Disrupt Sicily Travel

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As both Mount Etna and Stromboli volcanoes become dangerously active, travelers in Sicily are facing significant disruptions. These recent eruptions have caused delays and cancellations, impacting thousands of tourists as well as local residents.

Key Points

  • Mount Etna's eruption caused 90 flight cancellations at Catania Airport.
  • Stromboli's eruption led to a red alert due to severe volcanic activity.
  • Travelers are advised to follow local authorities' safety instructions.

Mount Etna's Eruption Impact

Mount Etna, Europe's highest active Volcano, has significantly increased activity over the past week. Italy’s National Insatiate of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania reported ash reaching 2.7 miles into the air, leading to the temporary closure of nearby airspace. Although normal service has resumed at Catania Airport, travelers experienced severe delays with at least 90 outbound and inbound flights canceled, affecting around 15,000 passengers. Ryanair and EasyJet were among the most impacted airlines, with Ryanair canceling 42 flights.

Passengers on diverted flights found themselves landing at Palermo, the airport serving Sicily's capital, which is a four-hour drive from Catania. Italy's Civil Protection Department has warned that this increased activity is not a one-time event and that the region remains at risk due to its high concentration of active volcanoes.

Stromboli's Increased Activity

Stromboli, located on the Aeolian Islands northeast of Sicily, has also seen a significant increase in volcanic activity. Late on Thursday, Italy's Civil Protection Department issued a red alert, elevating the threat level from moderate to severe. Reports indicated that lava was spilling into the sea, generating a plume of smoke over a mile high.

The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported "effusive activity" from a vent over 2,000 feet above sea level, and authorities have noted that the situation could worsen. The Civil Protection Minister confirmed that evacuation plans are in place and the number of firefighters on the island has been doubled as a precaution.

Despite the frequent eruptions, Stromboli remains a popular tourist destination. The Volcano, which has been erupting almost continuously for the past 90 years, last erupted in 2022 without casualties. However, a 2019 eruption resulted in the death of a hiker and forced tourists to seek safety in the sea.

Travel Advice for Tourists

For those planning to visit Sicily, it is crucial to stay informed about the current volcanic activity. Follow the instructions provided by civil protection authorities through various media channels, including radio, television, and the internet. During eruptions, avoid entering prohibited areas and heed any travel advisories issued by local officials.

The Mayor of Catania has also implemented measures to ensure safety, including banning the use of two-wheeled transportation for 48 hours and setting a speed limit of 30 km/h, which is around 18 miles per hour, due to the ash on the roads.

Final Thoughts

The recent eruptions of Mount Etna and Stromboli highlight the unpredictable nature of volcanic activity in Sicily. While the disruptions have been significant, the swift response of local authorities and the resilience of the community ensure that travelers can still enjoy their visits with proper precautions. Staying informed and adhering to safety guidelines is essential for a safe and enjoyable trip to this beautiful and dynamic region.

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