Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has begun erupting for the first time since 1984, ending its longest quiet period in recorded history.

The night sky above Hawaii’s largest island glowed a hellish red as bright on Monday (AEDT), hot lava sprang forth at the volcano’s summit.

The lava is contained within the summit and does not threaten Hawaiians living downslope for now, the US Geological Service (USGS) said.

Lava pours out of the summit crater of Mauna Loa on Tuesday (AEDT).Credit:WEst Hawaii Today/AP

But the service warned residents that volcanic gases and fine ash may drift their way.

Mauna Loa rises 4169 metres 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 flow of lava within 8 kilometres 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 emphasised that there were no signs that lava would threaten populated areas and that it had not issued any evacuation orders.

About half of all recorded eruptions of Mauna Loa had been confined to the summit, the agency said.

Clouds and gasses surround the Chaparrastique volcano in San Jorge, El Salvador on Tuesday (AEDT).Credit:AP

At the same time, authorities in El Salvador warned residents near the Chaparrastique volcano in the country’s east to be alert after it began to erupt.

The Environmental Ministry’s observatory reported explosions in the central crater of the volcano located about 135km east of the capital. It said the eruption’s intensity was a 1 on a scale from 0 to 8.

The eruption began on Monday (AEDT) when the volcano launched rock and ash to areas surrounding the crater. There were no reported injuries.

Civil Defence Director Luis Alonso Amaya said three municipalities were on alert.

Authorities were preparing 26 shelters that could accommodate more than 10,000 people and installing a command post to provide the most current information on the volcano’s activity.

The safety zone was extended to a radius of 6 km from the crater.

Reuters

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