Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has begun erupting for the first time since 1984, ending the longest dormant period in recorded history.
The night sky over Hawaii’s largest island glowed a hellish red as clear as Monday (AEDT), hot lava spewing on top of the volcano.
The lava is in the summit and poses no threat to Hawaiians living on the slope for now, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
But the agency warned residents that volcanic gases and fine ash could drift their way.
Mauna Loa rises 4,169 meters above the Pacific Ocean, part of the chain of volcanoes that formed the islands of Hawaii. It last erupted in March and April 1984, sending a lava flow within five miles of Hilo, the island’s largest city.
Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency said it had opened two shelters on the island as a precaution, but also stressed that there were no signs of lava threatening populated areas and that it had not issued evacuation orders.
About half of all of Mauna Loa’s recorded eruptions were confined to the summit, the agency said.
At the same time, authorities in El Salvador warned residents near the Chaparrastique volcano in the east of the country to be on the alert after it began erupting.