4.8 magnitude quake hits near Sicily's Mount Etna

The destroyed statue of Saint Emidio, known as the protector against earthquakes, is pictured in Pennisi on 26 December 2018 after a 4.8-magnitude natural disaster hit the area around Europe's most active volcano Mount Etna.

About 30 people were injured, several old buildings were damaged and highways were shut down in the aftermath of the latest quake that hit at 3:19 a.m.

It occurred two days after Etna, Europe's highest and most active volcano, erupted, sending a huge column of ash into the sky and causing the temporary closure of Catania airport on Sicily's eastern coast.

Damage was also reported in the commune of Zafferana-Etnea.

The quake, which struck at 3.19am local time, was part of a series of some 1,000 mostly weak tremors, according to Italy's Civil Protection officials.

Mount Etna has been particularly active since July, with experts in Italy saying the volcano has been growing faster recently.

Smoke rises near the city of Catania during an eruption of the Mount Etna one of the most active volcanoes in the world

"Etna remains a unsafe volcano, and this country of ours is unfortunately fragile", government undersecretary Vito Crimi said.

Debris of a partially collapsed house sits on the street in Fleri, Sicily, after an quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano.

Debris of a partially collapsed house sit on the street in Fleri, Sicily Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.

Another woman told local radio that a wardrobe in her home fell over during the quake and trapped her sister, who had to be pulled out by their father.

Pictures of damaged buildings have been posted on social media.

Volcanic ash had earlier covered nearby villages, and flights to and from Catania airport had to be halted temporarily.