Mount Etna, the largest and most active volcano in Europe, towers to over 10, 000 feet (3,300 METRES) above the Island of Sicily.
Mount Etna, the largest and most active volcano in Europe, towers to over 10, 000 feet (3,300 METRES) above the Island of Sicily. In recent years it has, from time to time, spewed out rivers of lava and, always its white smoke clouds an otherwise cloudless sky.
In the past two weeks Etna has shown its nastiest, cruellest face. It has rumbled, hissed and split wide open in several places ejecting rivers of red hot stones and molten lava. all in the paths of these burning torrents has disappeared, burned instantly and gone forever. Rich farmland, rich because it was based on ancient lava beds, has been engulfed. Crops, trees, grazing land - all have gone; and with them the livelihoods and hopes of the peasants whose families have worked to cultivate the soil for centuries.
And even this cruel blow of nature has not been sufficient - the suffering has been increased by the threat of personal peril and the destruction of entire villages. But still the people will not leave. Why? Because, they say, it is their home. Where else will they go, they ask? Many would like to leave, but have neither the money nor the courage. They are more frightened of change than they are of the cauldron upon which they live.