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Mount Etna has erupted, sending smoke and ash into the sky and forcing a nearby airport to close temporarily.

Etna, at 3,350m high, is on the Italian island of Sicily and is one of the world's most active volcanoes.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The Department of Civil Protection said nearby centres were not at risk, although Italy's Central Emergency Department said it was watching the towns of Linguaglossa, Fornazzo and Milo.

The airport at Catania had to close due to ash, which had risen more than a kilometre into the air and made it unsafe to fly, the Ansa news agency reported.

Photos shared on social media showed ash raining down on houses and a tall column of smoke coming from the mountain and stretching over the buildings below.

Stefano Branco, head of the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, told Italian news agency AGI that the latest burst of activity was "not at all worrying", adding: "We've seen worse".

By the early hours of Wednesday volcanic activity had started to ease.

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