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Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has erupted for the first time in almost four decades.

Emergency crews were put on high alert early on Monday after the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced the eruption some 15 minutes after it started on Sunday. The volcano is located inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The USGS warned residents in the area to be prepared in case the current situation might change although no evacuation orders have been given just yet.

“At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities.”

A webcam belonging to the USGS is situated on Mauna Loa summit’s north rim. It showed long bright eruptive fissures within the volcanic crater while the eruption started at night.

CNN reports that the Hawaiian islands are home to six active volcanoes. Mauna Loa, the largest on Earth, has erupted 33 times since 1843, according to USGS. The most recent eruption, in 1984, lasted 22 days and produced lava flows which reached within about seven kilometres (four miles) of Hilo, a city home to about 44,000 people.

Image credit: CNBC

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