WATCH: Italy’s Etna spews ash, leaving Catania airport closed

Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, belched smoke and ashes in a new eruption on Sunday, forcing the closure of the nearby airport in Catania, Sicily.

WATCH: Italy's Etna spews ash, leaving Catania airport closed
Plumes of smoke from the Etna volcano in Sicily, on September 15, 2018. The active volcano regularly covers surrounding areas in ash. (File photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

“Due to the eruptive activity of Etna and copious amounts of volcanic ash on the airport surfaces, flight operations are suspended until safety conditions are restored,” Catania airport said in a statement.

Loud rumbles could be heard in the region from early Sunday, reported newspaper Repubblica.

But heavy cloud around the volcano’s summit made it impossible to see the eruptions, the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology said.

Still, local residents captured images and video showing smoke-filled skies and vehicles covered in silvery volcanic ash, which were shared widely by Italian news media.

Some videos showed what looked like black volcanic stones raining from the sky amid the eruption.

At 3,324 metres (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.

Around 10 million passengers last year transited through Catania International Airport, which services the eastern part of Sicily, one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

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Two die and 700 evacuated in Sicily wildfires

Two people have died and 700 tourists were evacuated from their hotel overnight following wildfires in northern Sicily, officials and Italian media reports said.

Two die and 700 evacuated in Sicily wildfires

A 42-year-old woman died after trying to save her horses in Cefalu, east of Palermo, the local civil protection agency said late on Friday evening.

She was with her father and brothers but is believed to have become disorientated by the heat and smoke and slipped into a gully, it said.

A 68-year-old man also died after fleeing his burning home near Balestrate, west of Palermo, the ANSA news agency said Saturday.

The estimated 700 guests from the Hotel Costa Verde near Cefalu were evacuated to a local sports hall late Friday as fires approached, although they returned around 2am after the danger passed, ANSA said.

Schools were also closed near Palermo and most of Sicily remained on red alert on Friday for wildfires fuelled by strong winds and unusually high temperatures.

Temperatures in many parts of Sicily were around 34 degrees on Friday, well above the seasonal average.

Firefighters reported a busy night across the whole of northern Sicily, although relief was expected from rain forecast later Saturday, which is due to last several days.