At least five people died and a number were “unaccounted for” following the eruption of a volcano on White Island in New Zealand on Monday, December 9, according to local police.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held a press conference, in which she pledged support for those affected, some of whom were foreign tourists.
“I know there will be a huge amount of concern and anxiety for those who had loved ones on or around the island at the time,” she said. She said police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were working to help.
The eruption occurred about 2:11 pm, authorities said.
“While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, we now believe there were fewer than 50,” a statement from police read.
“Some of those people have been transported to shore, however a number believed to be on the island are currently unaccounted for.” Credit: Jacinda Ardern via Storyful