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Etna lava threatens town

Civil protection teams are trying to redirect the flow of the lava  

CATANIA, Italy -- Sicily's Mount Etna Volcano is continuing to erupt, with lava flowing closer to a town on its southern slopes.

The molten rock has slithered to about eight kilometres (five miles) from the town of Nicolosi. Civil defence officials said the town was not in danger as the lava is slowing down.

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.

Since last week there have been a number a small earthquakes in the area, leaving the southeast crater full of lava fountains and blurred by thick ash.

Civil Protection Official Enrico Galeani said the nearby ski resort Rifugio Sapienza, which was abandoned on Wednesday, will be wiped out.

Nicolosi Mayor Salvatore Moschetto ordered civil protection teams to redirect the flow of the glowing red volcanic emission -- which has travelled about 700 metres (half a mile) in a week -- by constructing a wall of earth and asphalt.

A hiker 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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