Sicily's Mount Etna, Europe's tallest and most active volcano, sent streams of red hot lava and ash plumes into the sky as it erupted.
The main phase of the eruption lasted about five hours between midnight and shortly before dawn. It consisted of violent pulsating lava fountains reaching 300-600 meters in height, as well as thundering explosions of giant magma bubbles that ejected large glowing liquid spatter hundreds of meters in radial directions. There were several lava flows.
There were no reports of damage or evacuations in the area and the nearby airport of Catania was operating as normal, local media reported.
It is the 16th time that Etna has erupted in 2013. The south-eastern crater, formed in 1971, has been the most active in recent years.