At least five people are dead and at least 12 injured, following the eruption of a volcano on New Zealand’s White Island. The eruption occurred on Monday afternoon (local time).
A cruise ship carrying tourists was close by at the time of the eruption. Footage of the incident was captured by many of them and posted to social media. The footage shows giant clouds of black smoke and people panicking to leave the island. There were a mixture of tourists and New Zealanders at the scene of the natural disaster. Among the tourists was Micheal Schade, who tweeted footage of the volcano and was lucky enough to be on a boat that had just departed the island mere minutes prior to the eruption.
In another post, Schade added, “This is so hard to believe. Our whole tour group were literally standing at the edge of the main crater not 30 minutes before. My thoughts with the families of those currently unaccounted for, the people recovering now, and especially the rescue workers…”
Many flights, combing over the island were unsuccessful in finding survivors according to New Zealand Police who said there were “no signs of life.”
23 people were evacuated from the island soon after the eruption took place. Everyone in the group was injured in some sort of way according to New Zealand National Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims. According to police, at least 10 people are still thought to be on the island.
When addressing reporters Tims noted, “The island is unstable … the physical environment is unsafe for us to return.”
In their statement, the police said, “Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.” They went on to say, “Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already.”
Police also mentioned that they would return to the island on Tuesday morning using a New Zealand Defence Force Ship.
According to the Austrailian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Austrailians were also involved in the eruption. On Twitter, Morrison said, “Australians have been caught up in this terrible event and we are working to determine their well-being.”
GNS expert, Ken Gledhill, said that the eruption hadn’t been a very big one and said in a press conference, “(The plume) went up 12,000 (feet) into the sky, and so on the scheme of things for volcanic eruptions, it’s not large, but if you were close to that, it’s not good.” MetService announced a volcanic ash advisory at 8:30 p.m. ET (local time) on Sunday. They asked people close to the area affected by the eruption to stay indoors and listen to the radio/TV for further updates.