Biggest Ever Eruption : 1669

  • In 1169, an earthquake just prior to an eruption killed 15,000 people on Sicily
  • Despite the dangers of living near an active volcano, the eruptions made the surrounding soil very fertile, so many small villages developed on the slopes of the mountain.
  • When Etna began to rumble and belch gas on March 8, the residents nearby ignored the warning signs of a larger eruption.
  •  Three days later, the volcano began spewing out noxious fumes in large quantities. 
  • Approximately 3,000 people living on the slopes of the mountain died from asphyxiation. 
  • Even worse, Etna was soon emitting tremendous amounts of ash and molten lava.
  • The ash was sent out with such force that significant amounts came down in the southern part of mainland Italy, in some cases nearly 100 miles away.
  • Lava also began pouring down the south side of the mountain heading toward the city of Catania, 18 miles to the south along the sea.