Mount Etna´s Lava Flow Slows

NICOLOSI, Sicily, JULY 24, 2001 ( A lava flow creeping down Mount Etna, which for days has threatened a village, slowed today, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, a nearby airport was able to reopen.

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A new fissure has cracked open at a height of 2,700 yards on the eastern side of the volcano, officials said, weakening the main lava flow that threatened the village of Nicolosi, a community of 5,000 people. Villagers had been praying for relief.

The magma pouring out of the new fissure, one of a half dozen which have burst open on the 3,350-meter mountain, was heading toward the uninhabited Valle del Bove valley. But experts say the volcano is highly unpredictable, making it difficult to tell whether the eruptions will stop soon.

Catania´s international airport, which was shut for a second time on Monday as thick layers of volcanic ash covered the runway, was reopened at 6 a.m. For a week, Europe´s most active volcano has been billowing clouds of smoke and ash, and spitting rivers of lava, leading the government to declare a state of emergency.

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