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Chris Burns: Mount Etna 'still very alive'

People in Santa Venerina, Sicily, pray at a statue of St. Egidio while the nearby Mount Etna continues to be active.
People in Santa Venerina, Sicily, pray at a statue of St. Egidio while the nearby Mount Etna continues to be active.

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CNN's Chris Burns reports on an earthquake that has killed at least four children in southern Italy and on the activities of Sicily's Mount Etna. (October 31)
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LINGUAGLOSSA, SICILY (CNN) -- Ash and lava continued to erupt Thursday from Mount Etna, threatening nearby towns and unsettling those who live near the Sicilian volcano.

CNN Correspondent Chris Burns in Sicily spoke to CNN Anchor Carol Costello about conditions near the eruption.

BURNS: Carol, I'm standing on some of the lava that just erupted in the last couple of days. It's still smoldering very, very close to me. And in the last few minutes, we've heard a series of explosions in the distance. Although volcanologists say the eruptions have toned down somewhat in the last 24 hours, [Mount Etna is] still very alive from this standpoint anyway.

The sun is blocked by lots of smoke. The ash is getting in our eyes over here. The trees have been snapped like toothpicks from the advance of the lava that has blocked this road that leads up to the volcano itself.

[There have been] more earthquakes; there was one [Thursday] morning. And the security authorities, the civil defense authorities, are making all kinds of efforts to try to prevent the lava and the fires from advancing. Tanker [planes] are flying over ... flying overhead, dropping more water over the areas where the forests have been set afire by the lava.

Bulldozers have been moved up in the area here to try to shore up some parts where the lava could advance, and at the same time, people are holding vigil and praying down in Linguaglossa, the little town called the "Tongue of Lava," where they're praying around the patron saint, asking that they be spared from this eruption. They'll have to see if that prevents them from being overrun.

So far the lava has advanced some five miles or so in the last four days, and that is what authorities are concerned about. They don't want it to go any further if they can help it.

COSTELLO: Oh, and I see people are wearing things over their noses and mouths, so it must be hard to breathe there, too, Chris.

BURNS: Well, I would be doing that now if I didn't have to talk to you.

COSTELLO: Well, you go ahead and put that on then.

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