About one hundred people reportedly stayed on White Island in northeastern New Zealand when the local volcano erupted around 2:15 pm local time.
At least one person was said to have died. The police fear that there could be more deaths. Rescue workers are currently looking for missing persons.
According to the "New Zealand Herald", the majority of visitors came from the cruise ship "Ovation of the Seas", which is said to have dropped anchor at the port of Tauranga in the morning. Relatives of the missing persons gathered at Whakatane Wharf. "Our thoughts are with all concerned," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. "Several people are apparently injured and are currently being taken to the coast."
Volcanic eruption in New Zealand:
3600 meter high ash cloud
After the eruption, an approximately 3600 meter high ash cloud has risen, reported New Zealand's geoscientific institute GNS Science. At least seven helicopters were deployed to bring people from the island to safety.
White Island is about 50 kilometers from the coast. Even from there, the huge ash cloud was visible. The volcano is called by the Maori aborigines Whakaari, completely also Te Puia O Whakaari – "the dramatic volcano". It is the most active volcano in New Zealand.
On Twitter, video footage of the volcano was posted. Police say 23 people have been brought to safety on the island so far.
Several companies offer day trips for tourists by boat. The island is visited by about 10,000 day-trippers per year. It was discovered in 1769 by the British navigator James Cook, who also gave her the name. The reason for this was that White Island constantly appeared in a cloud of white vapor and smoke.