A volcano eruption took place on White Island, New Zealand on Monday morning, killing five people.
The eruption happened at 2:14 pm local time and was categorized as a level four volcanic eruption. According to Reuters, around 50 people were believed to be on site, when the eruption took place. Around 18 survivors who were rescued have been severely injured with burns and are now being treated at a hospital.
A number of British travellers and passengers from the Ovation of the Seas, a cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean along with some local tourist have appeared to be on the missing peoples list. A large number of people still remain unaccounted for following the disaster, but officials have said they do not believe any of them survived, as aerial reconnaissance flights have not identified any sign of life on the island.
The Red Cross has now set up a website, where members of the public can go and register the details of possible missing people.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on twitter that few Australians had “been caught up in this terrible event”, adding that authorities were “working to determine their wellbeing”.
Following the incident, a volcanic ash advisory was issued by the New Zealand’s meteorological department and called for people to stay indoors. The New Zealand Defence Force is now helping the rescue operation. New Zealand police deputy commissioner John Timms told a briefing that police and rescues crews have still not been able to access the entire island, after advice from volcano experts saying that the ‘current environment is unsafe’. (Guardian.com) The military will deploy drones at first light tomorrow to assess the situation on the ground.
Speaking at the news conference on Monday afternoon, GNS expert Ken Gledhill said: “ While the plume went up to 12,000 feet into the sky, the scheme of things for volcanic eruption is not large, but would have been hugely dangerous for anyone nearby”.
Tourist from the nearby boats and around the island shared the event footage on their social media, which showed giant plumes of thick black smoke rising from the volcano island. Rescue operations and people running away from the event can also be seen.
Whakaari is an active andesite stratovolcano, in New Zealand. It is the countries most active cone volcano, and has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years. The island was made a private scenic reserve in 1953, after which daily tours were made operational. More than 10,000 people are estimated to visit the volcano every year.