New Zealand volcano erupts

This item appears on page 18 of the February 2020 issue.

White Island, a volcano off the north coast of New Zealand’s North Island, erupted unexpectedly on Dec. 9 while tourists were exploring it. Nineteen people were killed and more than 15 others were injured. Some of the visitors were cruise passengers taking part in an excursion from Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas, which was docked in Tauranga, the city nearest to White Island.

The island is popular with tourists, and visits have been ongoing for years without incident. A geological- hazard-monitoring service, GeoNet, watches for activity changes on the island and constantly updates New Zealand tour operators and authorities. GeoNet had noticed an increase in volcanic activity shortly before the eruption but indicated only that “the current level of activity does not pose a direct hazard to visitors.”