White Island volcano: Tourists injured and missing after eruption

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New Zealand: At least one person was critically injured and several others are reported to be missing after a volcano on New Zealand’s popular White Island tourist destination erupted on Monday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the volcanic island — also known as Whakaari — off New Zealand’s north coast had erupted while groups of tourists were visiting.

New Zealand police said in a statement that fewer than 50 people were believed to be on the island at the time of the eruption, but not everyone had been accounted for.

The natural disaster left authorities scrambling to treat the injured and find those unaccounted for.

Images of the crater from cameras run by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences appear to show a group of people inside the smoking center of the volcano just minutes before the eruption.

Photos from New Zealand’s official geological hazard information site Geonet showed a huge plume of white smoke rising above the island on Monday afternoon, local time.

The White Island or Whakaari volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano according to the GeoNet website. It has been built up by more than 150,000 years of volcanic activity.

A cone volcano is the most immediately recognizable mountain-shaped variety, as opposed to shield volcanoes or calderas which are far more flat in shape.

Whakaari/White Island is dubbed “one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes” on a White Island Tours website, which offers ocean cruises near the island and a guided tour depending on the status of the varying volcanic alert levels.

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