New Zealand White Island's volcano eruption

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New Zealand
Volcanic Activity

Police in New Zealand have said they do not expect to find any more survivors from a volcanic eruption on White Island that killed at least five people and injured up to 20.

“No signs of life have been seen at any point,” police said after rescue helicopters and other aircraft had carried out a number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island following the eruption on Monday afternoon. “Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation.”

Up to two dozen people remain unaccounted for, and officers are “urgently” working to confirm the exact number of those who have died, a police statement said.

Unstable conditions, toxic gases and ash fall prevented rescue teams from searching the island – which lies 30 miles from the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, in the Bay of Plenty – on foot.

The country’s most active cone volcano erupted at 2.11pm on Monday, sending up a huge plume of ash that was visible from the North Island.

Police said about 50 people were on the island at the time, more than 20 of whom were Australian tourists. Twenty-three people have been rescued. All of those rescued had sustained injuries, mostly burns, police said, and seven people who were in a critical condition had been flown to hospitals in Tauranga and Auckland.

Source: The Guardian. Mon 9 Dec 2019 11.59 GMT. Charlotte Graham-McLay in Wellington and Eleanor Ainge Roy .