Etna eruption closes airport and 'knocks clocks 15 minutes forward'

Ruth Doherty

An eruption by Mount Etna on the island of Sicily has left a nearby airport closed and locals getting into work early.

The volcano erupted on Saturday, spewing lava on to the south eastern slopes and sweeping ash further afield, stopping flights at Catania's Fontanarossa airport.

The eruption - Etna's fifth this year - didn't last long, but left the airport closed overnight, while many Sicilians blamed the volcano for their clocks running 15 minutes fast, affecting everything from digital clocks and watches to computers and alarm clocks.

Fontanarossa airport was reopened at 7am local time after seven sweeping machines worked through the night to clear the runway of ash.

The cause of the island-wide clock confusion remains unknown, but other suggestions of the cause range from aliens and poltergeists to solar explosions and electrical disturbances caused by underwater cables.

Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe at 3,295m (10,810ft), and it last erupted in May 2011.

See amazing pics of a volcano erupting in Chile below: