The White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted on Monday and showed briefly increased activity. At least five people died. The police assume that there are more victims. There would be around fifty people in the region, some of whom are still missing.
Rescue workers have now taken 23 people off the island. They cannot go further on the island, because it is littered with ash and volcanic material.
According to unconfirmed reports, about twenty people were in the crater when the eruption occurred at 2.11 pm (local time), reports the New Zealand Herald .
According to the newspaper, a large proportion of the wounded were passengers on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, which visited White Island on Monday. The ship is traveling from New Zealand to the Australian city of Sydney.
42Plume of smoke after deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand
Plume of smoke to see far into the area
White Island - Whakaari in Maori - lies in the sea, about 50 kilometers north of the North Island. Only 300 meters from the 1,600 meter high volcano protrudes above the water.
The ash and smoke plumes reached a height of almost 4 kilometers and have been seen to the full extent. The New Zealand aviation authorities say that the plume has no influence on air traffic.
A camera on the edge of the crater filmed the eruption. (Photo: GeoNet)
Volcano has been active for a while
White Island has been active for some time and earthquakes and small eruptions regularly take place. The island is a popular destination for tourists because of the unique landscape and bird population. Tourists may only enter the island with helmets and gas masks and under the guidance of special guides.
Monday's increased activity was short-lived, reports the New Zealand geoscientific office. There is no indication that the volcano will erupt further.
The last major eruption was in July 2000. During that outbreak a new crater lake was formed.
Satellite image of the White Island volcano. (Photo: Getty Images)