A volcano suddenly erupted on New Zealand’s White Island has killed at least five people, The Week reports on Monday. The dozens of local residents had been rescued so far from the place, which is a popular tourist direction.
NZ police confirmed on Monday morning that at least 23 people had been rescued from the vicinities of the suddenly erupted volcano on the White Island also known as Whakaari. Meanwhile, there are several still unaccounted for at the popular tourist destination. The majority of them were passengers on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, according to the country’s Cruise Association.
New Zealand authorities are warning residents near the volcanic eruption to stay indoors, as ashfall may be dangerous to breathe in.
The eruption occurred at 2.11 pm local time (1.11 am GMT), the local geological service confirmed. The footage shows huge plumes of smoke blasting more than 3,500 metres into the sky. Unfortunately, a small tourist group was seen walking inside the rim of the White Island crater just moments before the eruption.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the government keeps the situation under its control.
“I know there will be a huge amount of concern and anxiety for those who have loved ones at the island at that time – and I can assure them police are doing everything they can,” Ardern said on Monday.
Whakaari, or White Island, is off the coast of North Island and is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. Despite that, the island has frequent day tours and scenic flights available for visitors.
According to the witnesses of the first moment of volcano’s eruption, their family has gotten off it 20 minutes before and were waiting at their boat about to leave when they saw the unbelievable natural volcanic show.
The same person added on Twitter: “We had just got on the boat and left and we were sitting on it for around 10 minutes eating lunch, it was driving away very slowly because we were all eating. Then someone pointed it out and we saw it. I was basically just shocked. The boat turned back and we grabbed some people that were waiting on the pier.”
The tourists are thanking god for leaving Whakaari vicinities “just in time”, adding that some victims suffered “extensive burns on their bodies”.
NZ geological services GeoNet warned on volcano eruption
Last week, the geological hazard monitoring website GeoNet warned “the volcano may be entering a period where its eruptive activity is more likely than normal”.
Richard Arculus, professor of volcanology, from the Australian National University, said Whakaari had been “showing signs of unrest for the past few weeks”.
The most recent Whakaari’s eruption was registered in 2016, according to GeoNet, in a “short-lived” burst that happened in the evening and did not injure any person.