Published On: Mon, Dec 9th, 2019

New Zealand volcano video: Horrific footage shows moment of eruption on White Island | World | News

A New Zealand volcano on White Island, off the northern coast of the Northern Island, erupted on Monday morning. At least 100 people are believed to have been in the area when the eruption took place and officials confirmed at least five people died when the country’s most active cone volcano spewed a billowing cloud of ashes into the sky. A horrific video shared online after the eruption appears to have captured a group of people standing on a rock inside the crater as the first signs of the eruption appears under the guise of a cloud of smoke. 

The video, which appears to have been filmed from a boat circumnavigating White Island, also captured the aftermath of the eruption, showing a huge black cloud entirely engulfing the island. 

Five people have been confirmed dead and authorities have warned the number of casualties is “likely” to rise over the coming hours. Twenty people have also been reported missing. 

New Zealand police have advised people the volcanic ash could pose a major health threat to the public.

Roads have been closed around the town of Whakatāne, the closest town to White Island, as the local hospital has been turned into an emergency operation centre to help authorities cope with the emergency.

New Zeland Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed during a press conference around 100 people were believed to be on White Island when the volcano erupted.

Ms Ardern said: “Police were alerted at 2.17pm.

“At this stage, and please do keep in mind this is an evolving situation, we believe around 100 people were on or around the island at the time and some of those are at this stage unaccounted for.

“I want to share this is evolving at this stage, at this stage, it does appear to be a very significant issue, particularly the scale of those affected.”

The White Island stratovolcano last erupted in 2016 according to New Zealand science agency GeoNat, which recorded a “short-lived” burst that caused no harm as it happened overnight.

Australian geologist Professor Richard Arculus from the Australian National university suggested the volcano on White Island had been “showing signs of unrest for the past few weeks.”

Speaking to The Guardian, Prof Arculus added: “The eruption this afternoon was a short-lived explosive event.

“In addition to gases, fragmented rock particles (ash) rose approximately 4,000m above the vent.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered his country’s support to neighbouring New Zealand at this time of emergency.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Morrison said: “A terrible tragedy is unfolding in NZ after the volcano eruption on Whakaari/White Island. Australians have been caught up in this terrible event and we are working to determine their wellbeing.

“I have been in touch with @jacindaardern to offer our full support with whatever they need and our authorities are working closely together. I will be staying in direct contact as events continue to unfold.

“We will provide updates once they are confirmed and are available.”

White Island, also known as Whakaari, is located in the Bay of Plenty, approximately 30 miles from the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

The island is roughly circular, about 1.2 miles in diameter, and rises to a height of 1,053 ft above sea level. White Island covers an area of approximately 800 acres.

Michael Schade, who claimed to have left the island minutes ahead of the White Island volcano eruption, wrote on Twitter: “My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it.

“Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. This is so hard to believe.”

Mr Schade continued: “Our whole tour group were literally standing at the edge of the main crater not 30 minutes before.

“My thoughts with the families of those currently unaccounted for, the people recovering now, and especially the rescue workers…”

Skydiver Tristan Webb said the billowing cloud of smoke expanded “very fast” after the eruption.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Webb said: “I would probably describe it as a huge dark cloud grown out of the island and expanded at least, from my perspective, a kilometre wide above the island. And it was very fast.

“Once we’re under the parachute, which is around 4,000 feet you can usually never see any smoke from the island at all but even at that height, we could clearly see it.”

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