Five killed, several injured as volcano erupts in New Zealand
There are likely to be more casualties.
Five people have died and several others have been injured after a volcano erupted off the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, spewing a plume of ash thousands of metres into the air.
White Island is about 50km off the east coast of New Zealand's North Island and huge plumes were visible from the mainland.
Volcanologists said the ash plume shot over 3,600 metres into the air. The eruption occurred about 2:11pm local time.
BREAKING: New Zealand police confirm 5 dead in volcanic eruption.
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 9, 2019
Following the eruption, 23 people were evacuated from the island and seven of those people are critically injured. Up to 27 people are still unaccounted for and the island is currently too dangerous for police and rescue to access.
Police have stated: "While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, we now believe there were fewer than 50. There remain a number of people on the island who are unaccounted for."
The New Zealand Police are are continuing to work with the National Emergency Management Agency to coordinate a search and rescue operation following the volcanic eruption.
While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, we now believe there were fewer than 50.
There remain a number of people on the island who are unaccounted for.
MORE HERE: https://t.co/GST22ByeBR #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/ZV3WGeGPEK
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) December 9, 2019
A report from the police states: "Both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are believed to be involved. At this stage, we can confirm there has been one fatality and based on the information we have it is likely there are others.
"A number of injured people have been transported to Whakatane Hospital and Middlemore Hospital. Police are leading the search and rescue operation and we are working at pace to confirm the numbers of those involved.
"The island is currently covered in ash and we are taking expert advice with regards to the conditions to determine when we can safely access the island. We will provide more details as soon as we are in a position to do so. People in the area should continue to go to the Civil Defence and Emergency Management website for any safety advice."
The Guardian have reported that more than 20 Australians were on White Island as part of a tour group when the volcano erupted.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has offered emergency support to New Zealand and their prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.
He also confirmed that Australians have been “caught up in” the eruption.
“A terrible tragedy is unfolding in NZ after the volcano eruption on Whakaari/White Island. Australians have been caught up in this terrible event and we are working to determine their wellbeing.
“I have been in touch with Jacinda Ardern to offer our full support with whatever they need and our authorities are working closely together. I will be staying in direct contact as events continue to unfold," Morrison posted on Twitter.
I have been in touch with @jacindaardern to offer our full support with whatever they need and our authorities are working closely together. I will be staying in direct contact as events continue to unfold. We will provide updates once they are confirmed and are available.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) December 9, 2019