Quake from Mount Etna volcano jolts Sicily, sparks panic

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According to officials, a 4.8 magnitude quake has hit an area north of Catania near Mount Etna on Sicily.

A chain of around 130 tremors have rocked the volcano since around 9am on Monday, Italy's National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology said.

Around 30 individuals endured wounds, for the most part from falling brick work as they fled from their homes, authorities said.

Smoke rises over the city of Catania during an eruption of the Mount Etna, Dec 24, 2018.

A state of emergency is being declared in eastern Sicily, while experts and firefighters are assessing the damage in the six most affected districts and cleaning up the debris from several buildings and churches that were severely damaged.

An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a house, the Italian news agency ANSA said. Some stone walls along fields and local roads crumbled.

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A new, 2-kilometre (1.25 mile) fissure opened up Monday on a stretch of uninhabited slope near Mount Etna's southeast crater.

Volcanic ash covered nearby villages and flights to and from the Catania airport were temporarily stopped.

The quake was also felt in the upmarket holiday resort of Taormina and in other towns in eastern Sicily.

The mountain is the largest of Italy's three active volcanoes at 3,300 meters (10,800 feet) high, and has erupted regularly over the past 2,700 years.

The Civil Protection agency said temporary shelters were being set up for people whose houses were damaged or who were too alarmed to return to their homes.

Etna has seen frequent activity since July.