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Tourists hit by lava and boiling rocks as Mount Etna explodes

VIDEO See the latest eruptions at Etna Europe's most active volcano

On Thursday, a BBC crew and several tourists were on Mount Etna - an active volcano in Sicily - when an explosion pelted them with boiling rocks and steam.

"Therefore we didn't have any serious injuries, just some small abrasions".

The BBC's global science reporter, Rebecca Morelle, was on assignment on Etna and described the experience in a series of tweets.

Morelle said all those involved in the eruption were "okay" and had been brought of the mountain safely by an "excellent rescue team".

She said the episode was a "reminder of how risky and unpredictable volcanoes can be", describing it as a "very lucky escape" and "extremely scary".

"Incident could have been worse - explosions like this have killed - but seems minor injuries for now".

"Running down a mountain pelted by rocks, dodging burning boulders and boiling steam - not an experience I ever ever want to repeat", Morelle wrote.

Snow-covered Mount Etna spews lava during an eruption in the early hours of Thursday.

Reports varied on the number of injured, with the BBC reporting about eight and The Associated Press saying 10.

Mount Etna, which is situated between the cities of Messina and Catania, was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status in 2013 due to its near constant state of activity and the scientific and educational value it yields.

Six people remained in nearby hospitals Thursday afternoon recovering from injuries.

Sicily's volcano had been putting on a show in recent days, with a new lava flow starting from the south-eastern crater on Wednesday.