New Zealand’s Volcano Eruption on White Island Leaves Five Dead

Volcanic Eruption on New Zealand’s White Island Leaves Five Dead

New Zealand’s White Island Erupts for the first time in years, taking the lives of unexpecting visitors and injuring many more.

Image credit: Julius Silver

New Zealand’s White Island Volcano erupted suddenly yesterday at 9am SGT (2pm NZT), resulting in the deaths of at least five people and many other visitors injured. 

Police have estimated that there were 47 people on the island at the time of the incident from seven countries with 31 being treated in the hospital presently. Three people have been discharged and a total of eight people are reportedly missing. 

While the volcano has low seismic activity at the moment, authorities have warned that another eruption could occur in the next 24 hours, remaining at a warning of Level 3. 

Ongoing Rescue Efforts

As it has not been deemed safe for rescues on land, aerial reconnaissance has been activated to search for survivors. At the moment, there are no signs of life. 

Earlier on, cameras run by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) revealed that a group of people had entered the crater just minutes before the eruption. Many of which, if not all, were from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas. 

Image credit: @epaphotos

Active volcano has been a tourist site for years

According to GeoNet website, the Whakaari or White Island is the most active volcano in New Zealand and has more than 150, 000 years of activity. Over 10, 000 people visit the island annually.

The island is also a private scenic reserve, exclusive to White Island Tours which grants access to only certain tour operators. Tourists are encouraged to look up GeoNet for seismic activity information and visit at their own peril. For those who are willing to take the risk, they are supplied with gas masks and hard hats, as well as checked on whether they are wearing the appropriate footwear before embarking on their tours.

GeoNet issued a small warning of heightened activity last week but did not deem the island dangerous. 

Our hearts go out to the casualties. Families can register their missing loved ones on New Zealand Red Cross web page. 

About Author

Alicia Chong
Alicia Chong

Besides dreaming of far-fetched locations, Alicia enjoys training herself and others on ice in figure skating.