Several still missing after New Zealand volcanic eruption

Several people are still missing after a New Zealand volcano erupted suddenly on Monday (December 9).

As of Tuesday (December 10) local time, authorities said the explosion had killed at least five with dozens in hospital.

Police have said they did not expect to find any more survivors.

The volcanic eruption on White Island saw plumes of ash spew twelve thousand feet into the air.

About 50 people, both New Zealanders and foreign tourists, are believed to have nearby at the time.

And several were seen near the rim of the crater just minutes before the eruption.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provided an update on the disaster.


"There were two explosions, one after the other in quick succession.... In the immediate aftermath, a number of helicopters made a deliberate decision to fly to the island to rescue survivors. One Westpac helicopter landed on the island and were able to transport survivors back to the mainland. Two private helicopters were also able to land and rescue survivors, along with a Volcanic Air helicopter. I want to acknowledge the courageous decision made by first responders and those pilots who in their immediate rescue efforts made a incredibly brave decision under extraordinarily dangerous circumstances in an attempt to get people out."

Many day tours regularly visit the island. One, a 16-deck cruise liner, Ovation of the Seas - was there at the time of the eruption.

Daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit every year.

The White Island volcano's last fatal incident was in 1914, when 12 sulfur miners were killed and there was a short-lived eruption in April 2016.

But geological hazard tracker GeoNet raised the alert level for the volcano in November, due to an increase in volcanic activity.

A professor quoted by the Australian Science Media Centre has said he believed the volcano to be - quote - "a disaster waiting to happen for many years", adding that having visited twice, he always felt it was too dangerous to allow daily tour groups to visit the uninhabited island.