Mount Etna, Italy’s most active volcano has erupted for the first time since 2013 on Thursday, sending lava and ash into the sky in a spectacular show.
The cloud was lit up with the astonishing sight of a “dirty thunderstorm“, which causes lightning to streak through a cloud of ash.
This natural wonder occurs when tiny fragments of rock, ash and ice rub together to produce static electricity.
The massive volcanic plume came from the Voragine crater – which formed in the volcano’s central crater in 1945 – in what was its first eruption to reach the surface in two years.
— Daily Mail Pics (@DailyMailPics) December 3, 2015
It is thought that activity started around a month ago with explosions inside the crater that were too small to reach the rim. Mount Etna is Europes tallest active volcano and it dominates Sicily’s skyline on the island in the south of Italy, and it has been giving people an incredible show pouring ash and lava into the night.
Watch Heaven and Hell: Mount Etna Erupts | Barcroft TV videos online free – Yahoo Screen UK https://t.co/erCbe5E2dw
— Pavlos Kotopoulis (@apaulk2) December 3, 2015
Flashes of lightning danced around the ash cloud as the explosion blocked out the stars.
Ash from the eruption covered the nearby cities of Messina in Sicily and Reggio Calabria on the Italian mainland, where the airport had to be closed.
At 10,992 feet, Mount Etna is the tallest volcano in Europe with a basal circumference of 87 miles.
Since its first recorded eruption in 475 BC, Etna gained legendary status throughout the ages with classical Greek stories portraying it as inhabited by gods of fire, a cyclops, and dragons.