Updated: Dec 11, 2019
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says many people are “currently unaccounted for” after the country’s most active volcano, White Island, erupted on Monday with dozens of tourists present.
What do we know about White Island
Whakaari / White Island is an active stratovolcano, located 48 km (30 mi) from the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, in the Bay of Plenty. It is New Zealand's most active volcano and has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years.
The nearest mainland towns are Whakatane and Tauranga. Whakaari / White Island has been in a nearly constant stage of releasing volcanic gas at least since it was sighted by James Cook in 1769.
The island is roughly circular, about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter, and rises to a height of 321 m (1,053 ft) above sea level. It covers an area of approximately 325 ha (800 acres). The exposed island is only the peak of a much larger submarine mountain, which rises up to 1,600 m (5,249 ft) above the nearby seafloor. Sulfur mining was attempted but was abandoned in 1914 after a lahar killed all the site's workers. The main activities on the island now are guided tours and scientific research.
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