Two British tourists hurt as eruption kills at least 5 people
● New Zealand prime minister says eight people still unaccounted for
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’