Tourists Missing, Injured After Volcanic Eruption In New Zealand

Tuesday, 10 Dec, 2019

"Some of those people have been transported to shore, however a number believed to be on the island are now unaccounted for", the force said in a statement.

At least one person was left in a critical condition when New Zealand's White Island volcano erupted suddenly on Monday, leaving authorities scrambling to treat the injured and find those unaccounted for.

White Island is a small, uninhabited island located northeast of the North Island town of Tauranga.

Police will assess whether a recovery mission to remove bodies from the island is possible Tuesday after saying that the risk of further eruptions made it to risky to land.

The GeoNet agency, which monitors volcanoes and earthquakes in New Zealand, at first raised its alert level to four, on a scale where five represents a major eruption.

Specific details of the deceased and injured were not provided, however former Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said a "young, energetic man lost his life", reported the New Zealand Herald.

GNS Volcanologist Geoff Kilgour told RNZ that at least 12 people were on the island when it erupted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted "Australians have been caught up" in the "terrible tragedy".

He said the remaining 18 evacuees all have injuries "to some degree", most of which are understood to be burns.

New Zealand police confirmed one fatality from White Island volcano eruption and said the number likely to rise.

"Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation", the statement said.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years", said Ray Cas, a professor emeritus at Monash University, in comments published by the Australian Science Media Center.

What is the island volcano?

It's still not clear who was on White Island when it erupted - but passengers from a cruise ship visited the island Monday.

But the geological hazard monitoring website added "the current level of activity does not pose a direct hazard to visitors".

Schade wrote on Twitter that the boat picked up a number of people, including one injured woman.