The White Island eruption in New Zealand killed at least eight people. Are people aware of the danger when they go on a tourist walk to active volcanoes?
At the time of the eruption, which occurred at 14:11 local time, there were 50 people on the island. The short burst was enough to kill 8 people and seriously injure many others.
Tourists who left the island less than an hour before the tragedy filmed the moment of the eruption
Since then, the volcano has remained turbulent, potentially preparing for another eruption. On Friday, the authorities, at the request of the families of the victims, made a dangerous attempt to recover the bodies left on the island, endangering the lives of rescuers.
This heartbreaking story has led many to ask a completely logical question: how could such a dangerous volcano become a popular tourist destination? Moreover, why any of the 1500 active volcanoes in the world can be visited by anyone.
Hiking is allowed on volcanoes around the world, including White Island, because they are not as dangerous as you might think. Of course, if the travel companies do not ignore the predictions of volcanologists.
Fatal volcanic eruptions occur quite rarely, which is why such cases are so shocking and all the world media are full of news about the tragedy that happened. The risk of death when visiting a volcano is no higher than in a car accident. Regardless of whether a person is in the mouth of a volcano or is engaged in their daily activities, people are simply unlucky from time to time. Everyone may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
About 100 million people live within a 100-kilometer radius of an active volcano. Ten percent of the world's active volcanoes can be found in the United States, including the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, which erupted violently last year. Despite unpredictable dangerous convulsions, locals and tourists alike agree that volcanoes bring many benefits to the country - social, economic, spiritual and purely aesthetic.
Volcanoes have been revered by residents for tens of millennia because of their majestic power and unpredictability. This does not mean, however, that they are inherently dangerous.
White Island eruptions occurred continuously from December 1975 to September 2000, as well as in 2012, 2016 and 2019.
A recent study found that between 1500 and 2017, volcanic activity was responsible for 278,368 deaths. The figure seems large, but, according to the WHO, more than 1.25 million people die every year as a result of road accidents alone. You are more likely to die on your way to work than while visiting a volcano. But car accidents rarely make headlines because they happen too often.
Of course, despite the very low probability of death, tourists visiting volcanoes should be well informed about all the risks.
Over the past 5 years, there have been several incidents involving volcanoes. An eruption similar to the recent one took place on White Island in 2016, but it happened at night when there were no tourists around. A blowout of steam on Mount Etna, Italy in 2017 nearly killed the BBC's film crew, but they managed to escape. Last summer, a stronger magma explosion from the volcano Stromboli killed one person, but if it happened a few hours later, the victims could have been much more - tourists would have managed to climb from the base to the top. A horrific incident occurred on Japan's Mount Ontake in 2014, when it was covered by climbers - 63 hikers died.