A volcano off the coast of New Zealand erupted, killing five people and injuring 31 others.

The eruption happened at White Island, just off New Zealand’s coastline, at about 2.15pm local time on Monday.

A second, slightly smaller eruption went off at 3.45pm, according to local fishermen.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the incident on Monday afternoon, saying: ‘At this stage we believe around 100 people were around or on the island at this stage not all of them are accounted for.’

A rescue operation is currently underway to save people who were pictured inside the crater at 2.10pm, minutes before the explosion, on the White Island Crater Rim camera.

About 100 people were believed to be on or around White Island when it erupted. Reports indicate 47 people from seven different countries were on the island. Officials did not specify the nationalities of those who died.

GeoNet agency said a moderate volcanic eruption had occurred and raised its alert level to four, on a scale where five represents a major eruption.

Police were asking people to avoid areas on the North Island that were close to the eruption, including the Whakatane Heads and Muriwai Drive areas.

White Island sits about 50 kilometers (30 miles) offshore from mainland New Zealand.

GeoNet says it is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano and about 70 percent of the volcano is under the sea.

Meanwhile, a little closer to home, 20 small earthquakes shook near Mount Rainier this past week.

They were all within 8.2 miles of the volcano, most of them closer.

Mount Rainier is one of Washington’s active volcanoes, but earthquake experts say this swarm of quakes is not cause for alarm.

This isn’t the type of earthquake activity that would lead up to an eruption, said Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, which is based at the University of Washington. They track earthquakes across the Northwest.

The quakes have been small and fairly shallow. For example, a 0.4 magnitude Monday afternoon and a 1.2 magnitude that morning.

“For us to start to be concerned about an imminent eruption we would have to see a sort of persistent swarm of earthquakes,” Tobin said. “We would tend to see them extending up and down in depth, suggesting that there’s magmatic movement.”

Last week, there were also reports of earthquake swarms associated with the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the Midwest.

A series of quakes, including the 2.1 temblor, began shortly after 2 a.m. central time on Friday about 1.3 miles southwest of Ridgely, the USGS reported. They continued hourly until just before 5 a.m.

Another 1.1 quake hit around 7:30 a.m. More followed on Saturday, the last of which struck at 2:11 p.m. central time, according to the USGS.

All 15 were within roughly two miles of Ridgely.

The two largest 2.1 quakes at 4.2 and 4.5 miles deep hit at 2:06 a.m. and 3:10 a.m. central time, the USGS reported. But only one person reported feeling a tremor to the agency.

Ridgely is home to just 1,657 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and sits less than four miles from the banks of the Mississippi River.

It’s also part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone — which the Missouri Department of Natural Resources refers to as “the most active seismic area in the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains.”

As a reminder, the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 changed the course of the Mississippi.

I might suggest our Extinction Rebellion friends head to the volcanoes and seismic zones that might actually cause climate change and extinction.


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