At least 5 dead after New Zealand volcano erupts, more casualties expected

by Jordyn Pair · Dec 9th, 2019 12:39 pm
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A volcanic eruption on New Zealand's White Island has killed at least five people and injured a dozen more on Monday afternoon local time. Efforts are currently underway to recover additional survivors, but there were "no signs of life" on the island on Monday night, according to a statement from the New Zealand Police.

Those dead were from a group of 23 people who had been evacuated shortly after the eruption and all suffered some form of injury, according to authorities. Police said earlier that at least 10 people were still missing and believed to be ashore.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police statement said. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

Both New Zealand residents and tourists are believed to be involved, as tourists from a Ovation of the Seas cruise ship were touring the volcano at the time.

A volcanic ash advisory was issued at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Ken Gledhill, an expert from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, said that although the eruption had not been that large, it would have been dangerous for anyone nearby.

"[The plume] went up 12,000 [feet] into the sky, and so on the scheme of things for volcanic eruptions, it's not large, but if you were close to that, it's not good," Gledhill said.