The recent eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung made headlines around the world. Starting in 2017, it is still ongoing but in its first year led to airspace closures and widespread evacuations.(Unsplash)

The deadly eruption of a New Zealand volcano, which has killed 16 people so far, has drawn a spotlight on how active volcanoes draw crowds of tourists each year, a report said.

The White Island or Whakaari, a 321 metre-high volcano, which has 70 per cent of its structure hidden below sea level, erupted on Monday when 47 tourists were visiting the privately-owned island. The toll rose to 16 on Thursday after two injured victims died on Wednesday night.

“Getting close to volcanoes offers a rare opportunity to experience the power of the restless earth: the smouldering, seething release of pressure from the brittle crust of earth caused by the crush of tectonic plates,” the BBC said in the report citing a travel journalist as saying.

“But with the reward comes a range of risks. They can include sulphur dioxide and other toxic volcanic gases, material from the volcano being thrown out, lava flows and possible resulting wildfires, landslides and, for coastal locations, tsunamis.”

The recent eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung made headlines around the world. Starting in 2017, it is still ongoing but in its first year led to airspace closures and widespread evacuations.

Until then, though, the mountain had been a popular hiking destination for visitors to the island.

Another active Bali volcano is Mount Batur, which to this day remains a favourite sunrise hike.

It last erupted in 2000 spewing ash from several smaller explosions. The last lava flow at the mountain was in 1963.

Near Bali on the island of Lombok is Mount Rinjani, one of the country’s most active volcanoes.

Towering over the city of Catania, Mount Etna on Sicily is constantly active, but tourists still scale the highest permitted point of 2,920 metres in large numbers.

A BBC team and a number of tourists suffered minor injuries in 2017 after being caught up in an incident during an eruption.

Meanwhile, Mount Vesuvius in Naples which is one of the world’s best known volcanoes, mainly due to its eruption in AD 79 that wiped out the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae, sees more than two million people visit the area around the mountain.

It hasn’t erupted since 1944.

The other major volcanoes which are visited by a large number of tourists include Hawaii’s Kilauea; Eyjafjallajökull and Katla in Iceland; and Japan’s Mount Fuji.

–IANS

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