Written by Reuters
10 Dec, 2019 | 1:33 pm
Reuters: New Zealand said on Tuesday (December 10) that eight people were missing, presumed dead, a day after a volcano unexpectedly erupted off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, killing at least five people and injuring more than 30.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Whakatane, a town near the volcanic White Island tourist attraction, that aerial reconnaissance flights had shown no signs of life.
New Zealanders and tourists from Australia, the United States, Britain, China and Malaysia were among the missing and injured, she said.
Speaking alongside Ardern at the news conference, Waikato Police Superintendent Bruce Bird said 47 people visited the island on Monday (December 9), adding that rescue services would return to the island when it was confirmed as safe to do so.
Police said they did not expect to find any more survivors from the eruption, which spewed a plume of ash thousands of feet into the air. Many of the injured were in critical condition, most from burns, Ardern said.
White Island is about 50 km (30 miles) from the east coast of North Island and huge plumes were visible from the mainland. Volcanologists said the ash plume shot 12,000 feet (3,658 m) into the air.
Many day tours visit the island regularly. One from a 16-deck cruise liner, Ovation of the Seas, was there at the time.
Ardern said helicopters made a deliberate decision to fly to the island to rescue survivors immediately after the eruption.
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