Lava columns from Mount Etna in Sicily on Saturday threatened three villages on the mountain slopes as local authorities rejected demands to channel them into new paths with dynamite blasts.
MCU Bierman speaking
CU Rooftop, pull back to show lava encroaching on house, PAN across to lava approaching other houses.
LS House, lava in foreground.
LS PAN lava
MS Smoking lava PULL BACK to show vineyards and houses.
MS Roof of house threatened by lava PAN across to houses and vineyards.
Initials VS/1.09 VS/1.26
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Background: Lava columns from Mount Etna in Sicily on Saturday threatened three villages on the mountain slopes as local authorities rejected demands to channel them into new paths with dynamite blasts.
The lava was at one time headed straight for the centre of Fornazzo, after an earlier front damaged houses on the edge of the village two days ago. This is mentioned in the narration track serviced with this film, and spoken by the B.B.C.'s John Bierman.
Further down the mountain, the earlier front was on Saturday following the dry bed of the Cava Grande river, and bearing down on the hamlets of Sciara and Macchia, below which lies Giarre, a prosperous town of 20,000 inhabitants.
The column threatening the villages and town had pushed forward from the main lava front, now motionless, which burst forth from gashes 5,850 feet (1,800 metres) up the mountain on May 12.
On Friday night the Giarre town council asked Prime Minister Emilio Colombo to allow them to blast the Cava Grande river to divert the course of the lava. They also asked for permission to follow a plan put forward by Professor Haroun Tazieff of Paris, one of the world's leading volcanologists, to bombard Etna and open a safety valve high up on the slopes for the lava to escape towards uninhabited areas.
But the demands brought protest demonstrations from the citizens of Sant'Alfio and Milo, two other villages close to the lava flows. They fear that the river of destruction might be diverted towards their own houses and farmlands, which have so far escaped destruction.
SYNOPSIS: Looking from the source of this lava flow five miles up Mount Etna, to this spot on the edge of Fornazzo where the lava flow literally grazed the edge of the village engulfing the very last house, you get some idea of the immensity of this ugly quirk of nature.
The front of the lava flow is now a mile and a half or so further on, creeping very slowly down a deep river valley towards the village of Macchia and the village of Giarre by the sea.
It may never reach that far, but the inhabitants of Giarre are none the less understandably anxious. They and other communities have sent in urgent appeals to the Government in Rome asking the Italian air force to bomb the top of Etna.
This is in line with the view of French volcanologist Haroun Tazieff, who believes that a bomb in the right place might relieve the pressure inside the volcano, enough to reduce or even stop the lava flow.
But the British volcanologists who have been studying this eruption, think otherwise. They feel that the consequences of the bombardment might be totally unpredictable, and that anyway, it would be extremely difficult to hit the right spot.