A quake triggered by Mount Etna has jolted eastern Sicily, injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes.
Italy’s Civil Protection officials said the quake, at 3.19am Wednesday, was part of a series of some 1,000 tremors, most of them barely perceptible, that are linked to Etna’s ongoing eruption this week.
The 4.8 magnitude earthquake early Wednesday damaged some rural homes, including structures that had been abandoned years ago, toppled a statue in a church in the town of Santa Venerina and opened up cracks on a road, which was closed for inspection.
The Italian news agency ANSA said an 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a house.
A woman told state radio that a heavy wardrobe in her home had toppled over, trapping her sister, who was then safely pulled out by her father. In another house, a ceiling collapsed.
“Etna remains a dangerous volcano, and this country of ours is unfortunately fragile,” government undersecretary Vito Crimi said.
The quake was also felt in the upmarket Sicilian resort town of Taormina.
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.
In recent days, Etna’s latest eruption has been shooting volcanic ash, heavy smoke and lava stones into the air, coating roads and homes nearby with ash.
A new fracture has opened near Etna’s south-east crater and lava has been flowing down an uninhabited slope.
Etna, the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes, has been particularly active since July.