Schools near Mount Etna in Sicily were evacuated on 20 January 2017 as Italy was rocked by another series of earthquakes. More than 60 tremors were recorded throughout the morning. Five tremors measured at more than three on the Richter scale – the largest of them measuring 3.5 magnitude at 10.51am that day.

The epicentre was between Ragalna and Monte San Leo, 8.6 miles below ground level.

Scientists from Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology said there was "nothing unusual" about the seismic activity. Etna is Europe's most active volcano.

Although no buildings were damaged and there are no reported injuries, local authorities in Ragalna, Nicolosi and Bronte took prudence and evacuated schoolchildren that morning, according to The Local.

On Sunday (29 January), an earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale brought down the wall of a 15th-century church in Amatrice, central Italy, the town worst hit by a deadly earthquake in August 2015 year where 299 people lost their lives.

Italy is prone to earthquakes because it lies above the convergence of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.

However, the US Geological Survey says: "The region's tectonic activity cannot be simply explained by the collision of the Eurasia and Africa plates. It has been suggested that deeper lithospheric processes are controlling some of the deformation observed at the surface.

"The eastern Alps are particularly seismically active, with many shallow earthquakes occurring on north-dipping thrust faults, such as the M6.5 Friuli earthquake in north-east Italy on 6 May 1976 that killed approximately 1,000 people."

Amatrice snow
A man walking in snow in Amatrice after a series of earthquakes hit the city and parts of central Italy in January 2017 Emiliano Grillotti/Reuters