Mount Etna erupts in Italy, sending ash and lava into the sky

/ CBS/AP

Catania, Sicily — Mount Etna, the largest of Italy's three active volcanoes, is spewing ash and lava once again, but officials say the activity is taking place at its summit and does not pose a risk to people and towns. Etna began a new phase of eruptions on Thursday as two new cracks in the volcano opened up, sending lava down its flank.

Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) noted that prior activity took place before the eruption, with a series of seismic events occurring in the weeks leading up to two fissures opening on Mount Etna's New Southeast Crater.

In this photo taken on Thursday, May 30, 2019 and made available Friday, May 31, 2019 Mount Etna volcano spews lava during an eruption. Mount Etna in Sicily has roared back into spectacular volcanic action from Thursday morning, sending up plumes of ash and spewing lava. Salvatore Allegra / AP

Eugenio Privitera, Catania's INGV director, says this eruption is taking place at Etna's summit and does not pose risks to residents. But he says visitors to Etna must stay away from the summit for their own safety.

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Northern lava flow reached a distance of more than 1 mile while southern lava flow reached nearly double that distance, reports INGV.

The volcano previously erupted in December. That eruption was linked to an earthquake which caused injuries and extensive damage to buildings on and near the volcano's slopes.

First published on June 1, 2019 / 1:33 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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