At Least 5 Individuals Killed After New Zealand Volcano Erupts

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Michael Schade / @sch

The tourist Michael Schade published several photos and videos of the erupting volcano as he left the island.

After a volcanic eruption on the country's North Island on Monday, up to 13 people died in New Zealand and burned out at full capacity.

Five people died when the well-known White Island died with the Maori name Whakaari, which unexpectedly broke out at 14:11 local time (20:11 ET on Sunday). Another eight are missing and are considered dead.

On Tuesday morning, police said that 47 people were on White Island at the time of the outbreak, according to tour operators. The privately owned island is located approximately 48 km off the east coast of New Zealand and is popular with tourists.

Of the 47, five were New Zealanders and the rest were overseas tourists, including 24 from Australia, nine from the United States, four from Germany, two each from Britain and China and one from Malaysia.

The nationalities of the five dead and eight missing have not yet been confirmed; at least three of the five dead are believed to be Australians.


Getty Images

The view of White Island from New Zealand's Bay of Plenty coast after the eruption of the volcano.

The spokesman for the New Zealand Ministry of Health, dr. Pete Watson said that the burn units in New Zealand are working at full capacity with people injured in the outbreak, and it is possible that some of these people would not survive. The injured are between 13 and 72 years old.

"I want to reiterate the severity of the injuries, but also the numbers, which is really big in terms of the pressure it exerts on our units." He said. "We do everything we can … we are very confident that our expertise exists, and it is possible that not all patients will survive, but at this point, everyone gets the care they need."

Of the 31 injured, 25 are in burnout clinics in Christchurch, Hutt Valley, Waikato and Middlemore. Six more in Tauranga and Auckland await the transfer as soon as a bed is available.

Twenty-seven of these people have suffered burns on more than 30% of their body, and many have inhalation burns requiring airway support, Watson said.

Some of the wounded Australian citizens are likely to be relocated to incineration departments in Australia.

Rescue services were unable to gain access to the island on the advice of volcanic experts who said the scene was too dangerous and unstable. However, reconnaissance flights over the island since the outbreak have not revealed any signs of life.

Deputy Commissioner John Tims said on Tuesday afternoon that police in New Zealand have labeled photos containing six possible bodies, but these are covered in ashes.

"We can never say 100%, but I would strongly suggest that there is no one on the island who has survived," Tims said.

"I support that fact" These brave people who came to the island yesterday and rescued a number of people said they could not see anyone who was alive. "

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Photo by John Boren / Getty Images

Coast Guard Lifeboats are shown next to the marina near Whakatane, about 30 miles from White Island.

In an earlier press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern assured people that the police are doing "everything in their power" to get more information.

Afraid of those who had loved on or around the island, "she said.

Videos and images posted by tourists leaving the island shortly before the eruption of the volcano showed a huge white ash cloud in the sky.

The visitor Michael Schade said he and his family were in the crater of the volcano just 30 minutes before his outbreak.

Another video that Schade has posted shows what a destroyed helicopter looks like near the shore of the island when people were waiting to take off.

 Recent Photos: Here are the White Island tour operators that save people, time stamp 14:24 (~ 12-14 minutes after the outbreak). Endless gratitude to this crew who helped as a first responder.
I took these and reporters welcome to use attribution.

Recent Photos: Here are the White Island tour operators that save people, time stamp 14:24 (~ 12-14 minutes after the outbreak). Endless gratitude to this crew who helped as a first responder.

I took these and reporters welcome to use attribution.

06:03 – 09 December 2019

A webcam operated by New Zealand's Geological Hazard Agency GeoNet showed at least one group of tourists in the crater just before the eruption. The camera became dark later.

Tims told journalists at a previous press conference that 10 people on the island were left unconsidered, but could not be more specific. The victims included different nationalities, Tims added. The police had previously said that at the time of the volcanic eruption about 50 people were on the island.

"Our thoughts are absolutely with the friends and the family of the injured and the dead," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote in a tweet that the Australians were "involved in this terrible event".

White Island or Whakaari is New Zealand's most active cone volcano. It last experienced a short-lived outbreak three years ago.

UPDATE

December 10, 2019, 06:52

An earlier version of this post, using information from New Zealand Deputy Police Commissioner John Tims, stated that the police had opened a criminal investigation into the deaths and injuries caused by the outbreak.

The police have since issued a statement saying it was "too early" to confirm a criminal investigation, and it is clarified that they are currently investigating the deaths on behalf of the Forensic Science.

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