Molten lava flowing down Mount Etna continued to bear down on the small town of Sant'Alfio on Wednesday (19 May).
Molten lava flowing down Mount Etna continued to bear down on the small town of Sant'Alfio on Wednesday (19 May). The lava had slowed considerably on Tuesday when it advanced only 150 metres (yards) during the day. It had been moving at a steady 50 metres (yards) an hour for several days previously. Officials said Wednesday morning, however, that the lava had advanced about 300 metres (yards) during the night. If the lava reaches a crest, its speed could pick up again.
About 35 small houses on the lower slopes have been destroyed so far. On Tuesday (18 May) the lava approached a key roadway bridge near Sant'Alfio. As a crowd of tourists and villagers looked on, the enormous pressure of the slow moving lava engulfed and cracked the bridge, causing it to collapse.
SYNOPSIS: Molten lava from Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, continues to flow toward the small town of Sant'Alfio. The flow began thirteen days ago, as the volcano was in the midst of its most vigorous eruption since WorldWar Two. Having slowed on Tuesday, officials say the river of lava has again picked up speed.
On Tuesday, the molten lava approached a key roadway bridge near Sant'Alfio. Passing beneath the bridge arches, the steady flow cracked and finally collapsed a main buttress of the bridge as a crowd of tourists and villagers looked on.
Eventually, the slow moving but powerful river of lava engulfed and collapsed the bridge. Thirty-five homes on the lower slopes of the mountain have also been destroyed. The villagers of Sant'Alfio pray that the fiery river will turn aside before reaching theirs.