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Sicily's volcano continues to erupt

PALERMO, Sicily -- Sicily's Mount Etna Volcano continued to erupt as lava flowed towards a town on its slopes.

Europe's most active volcano has been emitting smoke and ash over eastern Sicily since a new fissure cracked open on Wednesday sending a lava flow down the volcano's southern slope.

The mayor of Nicolosi, Salvatore Moschetto, has called for action to divert the lava away from the town located about 10 miles downhill from the crest of the flow.

A police official from the town of Catania, which lies at the foot of Etna, said the lava flow was slowing down as it hit more gentle gradients lower down the mountain.

"The lava has come down about a kilometre since the fissure opened but during overnight it has only done about 150 metres (500 feet)," he told Reuters news agency.

Catania's police chief, Alfredo Pace, said the latest eruptions presented no real danger to people living around the volcano.

Pace has urged the hundreds of spectators watching the eruption to stay away from the streams of lava.

A man fell and broke his back on Wednesday while running away from the moving flow of lava.

The last time Etna posed a threat was in 1992 when lava streams headed towards Zafferana, a town of 7,000 people on Etna's lower slopes. The Italian military had to use controlled explosions to divert the flow.

• Etna Decade Volcano, Sicily, Italy

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