Five killed and more missing in volcano tragedy
FIVE people have been killed and many more are missing after a volcanic island in New Zealand erupted in a tower of ash and steam while dozens of tourists were exploring the moon-like surface.
The site on White Island was still too dangerous hours later for police and rescuers to search for the missing.
Police deputy commissioner John Tims said the number of those who remained missing was in double figures but he could not confirm an exact number.
He said there were fewer than 50 people on the island and 23 had been taken off, including the five dead.
Tims said experts had told them the island remained unstable but search and rescue teams wanted to get back as quickly as they could.
He said there had been no contact with any of those who were missing.
Tims said both New Zealanders and overseas tourists were among those who were dead, missing or injured. He said most of the 18 who survived were injured and some had suffered severe burns.
A spokesman for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said they are seeking “further information” from authorities.
He said: “We are in close contact with the New Zealand authorities following the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island and are seeking further information.”
Some of those involved were guests from the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.
“A number of our guests were touring the island today,” the company said.
“We will offer all possible assistance to our guests and local authorities. Please keep all those affected in your prayers.”