New Zealand volcano webcam captures tourists in crater moments before eruption

Cheryl Sanders
December 12, 2019

A number of New Zealanders and tourists - including a number of Australians - were on or near the island when the volcano erupted.

A volcanic eruption began on Monday on White Island at 2:11 p.m. local time. At least five people have been killed and several others are injured. "It's still too early to confirm how many people are involved". "There is a number still remaining on the island who are now unaccounted for", he added. "There were some injuries and focus is on getting these injured people back safely and to get them to a hospital".

"A volcanic eruption is occurring at White Island and is hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano", the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management said.

St John said it had dispatched seven helicopters to the island, which sits about 30 miles offshore from mainland New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who traveled to the region, said the focus remained on the search-and-rescue mission for now and questions about whether tourists should be visiting would be addressed later.

He said the government is working to determine their wellbeing and updates will be provided.

White Island is northeast of the town of Tauranga on North Island, one of New Zealand's two main islands.

He said there were fewer than 50 people on the island when it erupted and 23 had been taken off, including the five dead.

Out of this world: the landscape inside the White Island volcano is an usual one, with boiling streams, boiling mud, and toxic plumes of sulfur staining the area bright yellow.

Helicopters are now enroute to the scene.

"But to have the knowledge that a violent eruption will suddenly occur is something that's very, very hard to predict, although obviously, we should always be aware that the danger that that might happen does exist".

Aerius Helicopters owner Graeme McKenzie said his business was now not responding to the incident but was on standby.

Royal Caribbean advertised a "White Island Volcano Experience Cruise and Guided Exploration" at a cost of $324.00 (US) per adult.

Police indicated there had been no contact with any survivors and injured still left on the island and with nightfall close at hand, they face the prospect of a long night waiting for rescue.

"We don't have any further information at this stage".

This is the site where eruption victims ran to, seeking boats to take them away to safety.

Duty Volcanologist Geoff Kilgour told SunLive the aviation code has also been raised to orange.

Dr. Ken Gledhill from New Zealand geoscience consultancy GNS said that the smoke from the eruption went around 40,000 feet in the air.

"A number of people have burns as a result of the eruption", he said.

"As soon as the parachute opened there was this huge cloud that was really different to whatever we've seen before", he told AFP.

Other reports by iNewsToday