Bright lava lit up the night sky on the Italian island of Sicily today as Mount Etna erupted for the first time this year.

The volcano, one of the most active in the world, has been largely dormant for the last two years, but it sprung to life with bright orange lava spewing out high over the Mediterranean Island, eventually easing off by this morning.

Catania airport, situated within 50 km (31 miles) of the volcano, remained open, but authorities were tracking the movements of the ash cloud.

Etna, at 3,330 metres (10,926 feet), is the highest volcano in mainland Europe and can burst into action several times a year. The last major eruption was in 1992.

Photo: PAPhoto: PA

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