Five people have been confirmed killed after a volcanic eruption on New Zealand’s Whakaari / White Island.
This figure is expected to rise, as more than 20 Australians were on the island when it erupted, but it remains too dangerous for police and rescue to access.
The eruption occurred about 2:11pm local time, 48km off the coast of the Bay of Plenty, on the north island.
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.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) December 9, 2019
Police and rescue crews have still not been able to access to island, after advice from volcano experts.
The physical environment is unsafe for them to return to the island.
A number of people have been taken to hospital, some with burns as a result of the eruption.
Photographs in the aftermath of the eruption appear to show a wrecked helicopter on the island.
Fewer than 50 people were on the island at the time of the eruption, and 23 have been taken off.
30 to 38 of those people were passengers on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, as confirmed by the CEO of the New Zealand Cruise Association.
Whakaari / White Island is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano, and is a popular tourist destination and scientific research site.
Back in May 2019, more than 300 earthquakes rattled White Island. At that time, volcanologists said there were no links to volcano activity SO FAR, but they weren’t able to tell what set the swarm off. You connect the dots, now?
It last experienced a short-lived eruption in 2016. [The Guardian]