Two Bri­tish tourists hurt as erup­tion kills at least 5 peo­ple

● New Zealand prime min­is­ter says eight peo­ple still un­ac­counted for

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA BOWDEN news­deskts@scots­man.com

Two Bri­tish women have been in­jured af­ter a vol­canic is­land in New Zealand erupted, killing at least five peo­ple, and sev­eral peo­ple re­main miss­ing. Prime min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said New Zealan­ders, as well as tourists from the UK, US, Aus­tralia, China and Malaysia, are among the miss­ing and in­jured.

Two Bri­tish women have been in­jured af­ter a vol­canic is­land in New Zealand erupted, killing at least five peo­ple.

White Is­land erupted with a large plume of ash and steam yes­ter­day while dozens of peo­ple were ex­plor­ing New Zealand’s most ac­tive vol­cano.

The UK High Com­mis­sioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Laura Clarke, said: “We are sup­port­ing the fam­ily of two Bri­tish women who have been hos­pi­talised in New Zealand.

“My team are de­ploy­ing to of­fer as­sis­tance in per­son and we re­main in close con­tact with New Zealand au­thor­i­ties.”

The news came af­ter New Zealand prime min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said Bri­tish na­tion­als are among those miss­ing or in­jured af­ter the erup­tion.

She con­firmed that 47 peo­ple trav­elled to White Is­land yes­ter­day and five have been con­firmed dead.

A to­tal of 31 peo­ple are still in hos­pi­tal and an­other three have been dis­charged, Ms Ardern said. Eight are miss­ing.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence, Ms Ardern said New Zealan­ders, as well as tourists from the UK, US, Aus­tralia, China and Malaysia, are among the miss­ing and in­jured.

She said: “To those who have lost or are miss­ing fam­ily and friends, we share in your un­fath­omable grief at this mo­ment in time and in your sor­row.

“Your loved ones stood alongsidek­i­wis who are host­ing you here and we grieve with you and we grieve with them.”

When asked if there was any chance any of the miss­ing peo­ple sur­vived, Su­per­in­ten­dent Bruce Bird, the act­ing as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner for dis­tricts, said: “The pi­lot went out there and spent about 45 min­utes and has pro­vided a pretty good in­di­ca­tion that we do not be­lieve any­one else has sur­vived the ex­plo­sion.”

He added that “some peo­ple” could be seen from the heli­copter.

A miss­ing per­sons list which aims to re­unite con­cerned fam­ily mem­bers with their loved ones shows up to five peo­ple with a UK birth­place still un­ac­counted for.

Aerial footage showed “no signs of life” on the is­land fol­low­ing the erup­tion, ac­cord­ing to New Zealand po­lice, who said they do not ex­pect to find any more sur­vivors.

Res­cue teams were un­able to ac­cess the is­land on foot due to un­sta­ble con­di­tions hours af­ter the erup­tion, which oc­curred shortly af­ter 2pm lo­cal time yes­ter­day.

The New Zealand Red Cross ac­ti­vated the miss­ing list to al­low peo­ple to self-regis­ter as safe and well, or to regis­ter de­tails of a per­son they have lost con­tact with. In­for­ma­tion on the list is sub­mit­ted by mem­bers of pub­lic.

An­gela Suther­land, gen­eral man­ager of dis­as­ter risk man­age­ment at the New Zealand Red Cross, urged any­one wor­ried about friends or fam­ily to “first con­tact them as you nor­mally would”.

“Us­ing your own chan­nels can help to speed up the process and helps re­sponse agen­cies as well,” she said.

“If you can­not make con­tact, please regis­ter them through our Fam­ily Links web­site.”

White Is­land is in the Bay of Plenty, near the town of Tau­ranga on North Is­land. The vol­cano is a tourist hotspot but has erupted sev­eral times be­fore, most re­cently in 2016.

Footage posted on so­cial me­dia by tourists in nearby boats showed thick smoke bil­low­ing up to 12,000 feet in the air as peo­ple could be spot­ted along the shore of the is­land.

Some of those in­volved were guests from the Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional cruise ship Ova­tion of the Seas.

Clock­wise from main: the ex­plo­sion cap­tured by tourist Michael Schade who es­caped the is­land; coast­guard res­cue boats en route; vic­tims be­ing car­ried to am­bu­lances on the main­land; ash coats the rocks; an aerial view shows the crater

0 Jacinda Ardern: ‘We share in your un­fath­omable grief’

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