New Zealand’s White Island Volcano, known locally as Whakaari, has erupted with a tragic blast leaving 34 people injured, 8 people missing and 6 confirmed dead. The eruption took place at approximately 2:00PM local time on December 9th 2019.
White Island’s volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano, situated off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s north island, attracting tourists, geologists and volcanologists from afar. The volcano has been releasing volcanic gasses constantly at least since it was first sighted by Captain James Cook 250 years ago in 1769.
In the past, the volcano has had eruptions of Lava, ash and pyroclastic flows, with the most recent significant eruption having been in 2016. In October 2019, the volcano was raised to a Volcanic Alert level 2, stating that there was increased volcanic activity and indicating that an eruption was more likely to occur.
Further seismic activity in the hours following the eruption included subsequent eruptions, and an earthquake at a magnitude of 5.3 in Gisborne, Northeastern New Zealand in the early hours of December 10th. The island is now on Volcanic Alert level 3, with GeoNet stating that the volcano is in minor eruption, but that the alert level could change without notice.
Of the confirmed fatalities, the injured and the missing people, all were either visiting the island as tourists or operating the tours. Pilot Productions extends it’s deepest sympathies and thoughts to all those affected by the eruption.
Main Image: White Island, New Zealand – Volcano, Thru MyShutter, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers