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Eruption at snow-covered Mount Etna

Antonio Parrinello / Reuters

Mount Etna spews volcanic ash during an eruption on the southern Italian island of Sicily on Jan. 5, 2012. Mount Etna is Europe's tallest and most active volcano.

Mount Etna erupted on Thursday for the first time in 2012, forcing the temporary closure of Sicily's busiest airport, the Italian news agency ANSA reports. Europe's tallest active volcano spewed spectacular fountains of lava and sent up a plume of black smoke rising 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above sea level. That prompted authorities to limit air traffic to Sicily's Catania Airport until midday, ANSA reported. Etna erupted 18 times during 2011, according to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. 

See more volcano eruptions on PhotoBlog.

Sicily's Mount Etna has erupted, marking its first eruption in weeks. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.