As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned

Five people are dead and eight remain missing after a volcanic eruption on White Island / Whakaari. A further 31 are in hospital receiving treatment.

Those remaining on the island are presumed dead, according to police. A pilot who carried out a physical search of the island found no signs of life.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed people from Australia, the US, the UK, China, Germany, Malaysia and New Zealand are among the missing and injured.

Police have retracted an earlier statement, saying it is "too early" to launch a criminal investigation into the deaths and injuries on White Island.

What you need to know:

  • A devastating volcanic eruption occurred on White Island / Whakaari at 2:11pm on Monday - the biggest for the volcano in recent history.
  • Forty-seven people visited the island on Monday. Of these, five are confirmed dead, 31 are in hospital, three have been discharged and eight are missing. 
  • Police presume the eight people remaining on the island are deceased.
  • Thirty-eight of the people were from the Ovation of the Seas cruise shop, which will remain at the Port of Tauranga overnight. Most were Australian. 
  • People from the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, China and Malaysia were on the island at the time of the eruption.
  • Police have retracted an earlier statement saying a criminal investigation is underway.

These live updates are now finished.

9:30pm - The owners of White Island have expressed their condolences to those affected.

"Whakaari Trust wishes to express its heartfelt sympathies and condolences to those affected by the eruption of Whakaari/White Island yesterday," the Trust, which owns the island, said in a statement.

"We are all shocked by what has occurred on Whakaari yesterday and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy," Trust spokesperson Peter Buttle said.

"We wish to thank everyone involved in the rescue effort, including the first responders, medical personnel and the locals who helped evacuate people from the island. Their efforts have been both courageous and extraordinary.

"That we now have had a tragic event with devastating consequences leaves us absolutely heartbroken. Our thoughts are with the families of those affected, as well as the wider Whakatāne community."

The Buttle family asks that the rāhui (a prohibition restricting access or use of an area) now placed on Whakaari is respected.

9:12pm - New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Australia are currently in talks on how best to commemorate the White Island volcanic disaster. 

Both teams are united in grief ahead of the first test in Perth on Thursday, with Australia coach Justin Langer saying the tragic events are sure to have an effect on the players.  

Read the full story here.

8:57pm - Ovation of the Seas have confirmed the cruise ship's onward journey in a statement.

"Following yesterday's events, the ship stayed in Tauranga to allow our personnel to assist local authorities and support those affected by this unforeseen natural disaster. The ship is now scheduled to set sail at 6:45am on Wednesday, visiting Wellington and Picton before returning to Sydney. The revised itinerary has been provided to guests.

"A team will remain onsite in Tauranga and all hospital locations to ensure those affected by Monday's incident are taken care of in terms of medical help, counseling, accommodations and transport.

"Our priority continues to be to ensure that all guests and crew impacted are well taken care of and we assist the local authorities in any way we can. We thank our guests onboard for their patience and understanding during this tragic situation.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with those impacted."

8:39pm - A family spokesperson has confirmed missing Adelaide woman Lisa Dallow has been found alive in a Hamilton hospital but severely burned.

According to ABC News, the 48-year-old mother is in a Hamilton hospital.

Her husband and daughter are still considered missing. 

7:34pm -  Ovation of the Seas said they are communicating with the guests and their families.

"We're making sure they are taken care of in terms of medical help, counselling, accommodation and transport," Royal Caribbean International said in a statement.

7:30pm - The Langfords, an Australian family-of-four, remain unaccounted for. The parents and their two teenagers are presumed dead.

7:15pm - Police have retracted their earlier statement, saying it is "too early" to launch a criminal investigation.

"At this time, police is investigating the death of the individuals on Whakaari / White Island on behalf of the Coroner," police said.

"To correct an earlier statement, it is too early to confirm whether there will also be a criminal investigation."

The investigation on behalf of the Coroner will be carried out in tandem with the WorkSafe NZ health and safety investigation into the injuries and deaths caused by the eruption.

7:09pm - Fifty-year-old Geoff Hopkins had just finished a tour with his daughter, Leilani, a geology student. They were about to leave when the volcano erupted - but turned back to help people, becoming some of the first responders.

He described the skin of the victims as "blistering" and "coming off".

Thirty-eight of the 47 people on the island at the time of the eruption were from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship - and most of them were Australian. 

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said 13 Australians are hospitalised and 11 remain unaccounted for. It's believed that three of the five people confirmed dead may also be Australian.

6:53pm - Police are continuing to monitor conditions on White Island and are hoping to deploy drones when the weather improves. 

Police said they are working around the clock to get to the island and recover the remaining people.

6:15pm - "We had certainly seen an increase in moderate unrest in recent weeks and communicated increased activity and [the] chance of eruption that goes with that," senior volcanologist Graham Leonard said at a GNS press conference. 

The volcanic alert level remains at level 3. The Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

GeoNet said if there is a similar-sized or smaller eruption in the next 24 hours, there is an extremely low likelihood of ash impacting the mainland. People may smell gas, depending on the wind direction.

5:50pm - According to ABC Australia, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said eight other Australians remain missing on White Island.

Morrison's reported confirmation indicates the eight missing people - who are presumed dead by police - are Australian.

5:33pm - An Australian man, identified by the Sydney Morning Herald as Jason Griffiths, is undergoing treatment in hospital.

The 33-year-old sustained burns in Monday's eruption.

According to the newspaper, Griffiths was on the island with two friends, identified as Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer, both 32. The wellbeing of Griffiths' friends is uncertain. 

5:16pm - The injured have filled burn units across the country. Turner can't confirm any numbers. 

Turner has acknowledged Ngāti Awa from the eastern Bay of Plenty region as well as wider iwi.  Ngāti Awa placed rāhui on White Island on Tuesday morning.

5:10pm - Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner has sent her condolences to the victims and their families and acknowledged the work of first responders.

"We are all working with relevant authorities regarding recovery operation and the Royal Caribbean cruise ship organisation," she said.

Turner said the criminal investigation will need "time to run its course" and is unsure of its timeline.

"Our focus is on welfare and the care of people and their families. We want to acknowledge that White Island tours have been running this for near on 30 years... personally, I have been [on a tour] with them and was impressed and confident."

5:04pm - WorkSafe New Zealand has opened a health and safety investigation into the harm and loss of life caused by the eruption, a WorkSafe spokesperson confirmed.

WorkSafe will be investigating and considering all of the relevant work, health and safety issues surrounding this tragic event.

4:51pm - Twenty-seven of the 31 injured have suffered "greater than 30 percent body-surface burns", Ministry of Health spokesperson Pete Watson confirmed at the conference.

The injured are aged between 13 and 72.

Many of the injured have suffered inhalation burns, Watson said.

It has been confirmed that the 47 people on the island included 24 from Australia, nine from the US, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from the UK, two from China and one from Malaysia.

4:46pm - Tims said police believe the eight missing people are deceased.

GNS Science is currently considering the condition of the island, the requirements of those going to the island and the transport of the deceased when they are recovered.

"We understand what we need to do for friends and family," Tims said.

"We understand desire to remove their family from the island... we are working hard."

A criminal investigation will be launched by NZ Police into the deaths and injuries on White Island.

Tims said he's confident police did everything they could to evacuate people from the island on Monday.

4:41pm - Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black and NZ Police deputy commissioner John Tims are addressing the media at Police National HQ in Wellington.

Thirty-one people remain in hospitals across the country.

"This is truly heartbreaking," Stuart-Black said.

Monitoring equipment on White Island is still functioning and able to provide real-time updates. 

There is a 50 percent chance of a smaller eruption in the next 24 hours. Another large eruption is unlikely.

The level of volcanic activity remains at three, which indicates a minor alert level.

4:21pm - A karakia has been performed in honour of the victims. 

4:16pm - A minute's silence was held onboard the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship in honour of the victims of Monday's eruption. A journalist on the scene said the minute of silence took place at 3:59pm.

The crew and local officials gathered at the Port of Tauranga to pay their respects.

4:12pm: More flowers are being left in honour of the victims.

As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Newshub

3:58pm - "Trust, courage, adventure, fun, passionate, life of the party, loyal, family man.

"Hayden always put others before himself. He had a heart of gold and a spirit of protection. You always felt safe with him. He loved the Chiefs, All Blacks, diving, slack lining, fishing, outdoors, family, friends and the New England Patriots. If he was able to speak on this tragedy he would probably say 'don't worry about me, just make sure everyone involved are recovered and are given the best treatment for recovery'. The trait of a true superhero.

"All the positive stories about this man are true. The coverage on him has been amazing. You [might] have never met Haydz before but feel a connection to him through this tragedy. Top bloke, model citizen. His favourite saying was 'life is all about making memories'. That's all we have now Haydz, it's time to rest.

"Dive every cave where ever you are, and swim every water hole, your new adventure starts. Love you 'Haydz'."

Hayden Marshall-Inman's best friend, Tony Lemalie, and Tony's daughter Brianna have given Newshub permission to publish their moving tribute to Marshall-Inman. He is one of the people believed to have died in Monday's eruption. 

3:39pm - GNS Science will hold a briefing on the Whakaari/White Island eruption at 5pm. Graham Leonard, a GNS Science volcanologist, will provide updates on the current activity on Whakaari/White Island. 

3:36pm - More tributes are being left at the cordon for the victims of the White Island eruption.

As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Newshub

3:32pm - Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner will hold a short media briefing on the White Island/Whakaari event response. The briefing will commence at 5:15pm at Whakatāne District Council.

3:28pm - More updates on the emergency response to the volcanic eruption at Whakaari / White Island will be provided at Police National Headquarters at 4.30pm.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Director Sarah Stuart-Black, Deputy Commissioner John Tims and Ministry of Health spokesperson Pete Watson will speak during the press conference.

3:15pm - The Cuba Embassy has expressed their condolences. 

3:13pm - Watch the Prime Minister's moving speech on the eruption here.

3:08pm - People can donate to Philips Search & Rescue Trust to ensure rescue helicopters can continue bringing life-saving equipment, rescue personnel and intensive care paramedics directly to the patient. Donations can be made here.

3:03pm - Philips Search & Rescue Trust said: "As expected, due to the nature of the event, critical injuries featured serious burns, making the need for urgent attention via air, crucial. Pilots and crew continued support into the early hours of this morning."

"Through this tragedy, we are grateful to have onboard the high-level medical skills of our own advanced intensive care paramedics, their ability to treat the seriously injured is often pivotal for stable transfers by our accomplished pilots and crew," Philips Search & Rescue Trust CEO David Wickham said.

2:56pm - The rescue helicopter Trust has announced it will commit all its resources to the White Island operation.

"As part of a national coordinated response, all five units under the North Island's largest rescue helicopter operation, Philips Search & Rescue Trust, were dispatched to Whakatane during yesterday's Whakaari/White Island eruption," the Trust said in a statement.

"Pilots, intensive care paramedics and crew onboard the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter, TECT Rescue Helicopter, Greenlea Rescue Helicopter and Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter and their nationwide Westpac Air Ambulance were mobilised to transport - and at times stabilise - critically injured patients from Whakatane while en route to the appropriate care units."

TECT Rescue Helicopter has transferred a 19-year-old male from Whakatane to Waikato Hospital. A male in his late forties has also been transferred to Middlemore Hospital. Both patients are suffering from serious burns.

Another 19-year-old male with critical injuries has been flown to Middlemore by the Waikato Westpac Resue Helicopter.

Greenlea Rescue Helicopter crew transferred one male patient to Waikato Hospital. The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to Whakatane Hospital to transfer a 40-year-old female to Waikato Hospital.

The Westpac Air Ambulance transported two patients to Wellington and another two from Whakatane Hospital. 

2:52pm - Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner said her heart goes out to the injured, the missing, the deceased and their families and whānau.

A Civil Defence Centre opened on Tuesday at Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi (Whakatāne Library) at 49 Kākahoroa Drive, Whakatāne. The centre will provide "psycho-social support" to those that require it.

Police advise the public to note that the Whakatāne iSITE is closed for at least the next 24 hours.

"Our immediate priority is support for those visitors and operators affected by yesterday's tragic events," police said.

2:42pm - "The police are working diligently to assess when they are able to undertake the recovery," Ardern told reporters before her speech in the House, which took place shortly after 2pm.

"One of the things I want to reinforce again... tragically, everyone who was alive and survived was taken off the island. That is absolutely tragic, but confirming again that those who remain - it will be recovery."

2:39pm - Watch a summary of the White Island eruption here:

2:31pm - Flowers are being placed at the cordon.

Flowers at the cordon.
Flowers at the cordon. Photo credit: Newshub

2:29pm - There will be a press release from WorkSafe on Tuesday afternoon regarding the investigation. Police will provide more updates at a later press conference - the time has yet to be confirmed.

2:13pm - New Zealand and Australia's flags are at half-mast outside of Parliament. 

"We know too there will be bigger questions in relation to this event," Ardern said during her speech.

"Questions must be asked and they must be answered." 

2:10pm - Paula Bennett has thanked the Government on behalf of National Party leader Simon Bridges.

"On behalf of the Opposition, we would like to recognise those who are suffering, those who are behind it and the work of the Government," Bennett said.

2:07pm - "There is no limit to New Zealand's capacity to mobilise, respond, care and embrace those impacted by tragedy... I heard stories of first responders who bordered a Coastguard vessel, went out to sea and boarded one of the vessels returning to the mainland to give firstaid support as soon as they could... I heard a story of helicopter operators, who were greeted with devasting scenes on White Island and did all they could to bring people back to the mainland," Ardern said.   

2:05pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is delivering a speech at Parliament with updates on the White Island natural disaster.

"There were two explosions in quick succession. The police have advised that five are deceased and 31 have sustained injuries, many are critical. A further eight are still missing. Three have been discharged overnight... no signs of life [on the island] have been detected."

The PM also acknowledged the courage of the helicopter pilots who helped with the rescue effort.

"I suspect their own personal safety was the last thing on their minds," she said.

A tourist from Germany has been confirmed as being involved in the disaster, bringing the total of nationalities to seven. 

"In particular, our family in Australia have been heavily impacted," Ardern said.

1:48pm - The police have released a statement regarding the continued work to enable the recovery of the eight people unaccounted for on White Island.

"Recovering the remaining victims and returning them to their loved ones is an absolute priority for NZ Police.

"Police are working closely with experts from GNS Science to get an understanding of the current environment on Whakaari / White Island and the likelihood of any further volcanic activity, as well as any risks posed to recovery teams by gases in the atmosphere.

"This is a heartbreaking situation for all involved and we are working to provide every support possible to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured in the eruption."

Police Family Liaison Officers are being deployed nationwide to assist with support. The nationalities of the deceased and the injured, as well as the conditions of the injured, will be released at the earliest opportunity.

1:35pm - The White Island eruption was a "disaster waiting to happen", according to an expert.

Emeritus Professor Ray Cas from Monash University's School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment says he has visited it twice and always "felt that it was too dangerous to all the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano". 

"In the lead up to major eruptions there can be elevated levels of steam release, small explosions and increased seismicity, as occurred on this occasion in the last two weeks."

Dr Jessica Johnson, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia, also says the eruption was not unexpected. 

"Levels of activity at White Island/Whakaari have been relatively high since September, and even more elevated over the last couple of weeks, with increased numbers of small earthquakes and more volcanic gas detected than usual. As a consequence, the volcanic alert level was raised. Similar eruptions have happened over the last 100 years or so."

She said while the alert level was raise, it is difficult to forecast what will happen with volcanoes. 

1:30pm - An Adelaide school has released a statement confirming one of its Year 9 students, Zoe Hosking, is among the missing.

St Aloysius College says her family is also missing.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Zoe and her family," the school says.

"We know that you share our sadness at this time. We turn to our loving God to give us strength and courage in the days ahead."

1:25pm - An image of the abandoned helicopter on White Island has emerged.

1:20pm - RNZ's Dom Thomas has shared some high-resolution images of Ardern meeting first responders.

As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: RNZ / Dom Thomas
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: RNZ / Dom Thomas
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: RNZ / Dom Thomas.

1:15pm - The Gisborne earthquake is unrelated to the eruption, according to GeoNet.

1:10pm - There will be several questions to ministers about the Whakaari disaster at Question Time in Parliament at 2pm.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene will ask the Minister of Civil Defence: "What actions has the National Emergency Management Agency taken in response to the eruption on Whakaari / White Island?"

Greg O'Connor will ask the Minister of Police: "What actions have the Police taken in response to the eruption on Whakaari / White Island?"

Angie Warren-Clark will ask the Minister of Health: "How is the health system responding to the tragedy at Whakaari / White Island?"

1:05pm - National leader Simon Bridges says he doesn't "necessarily" see a connection between authorities' handling of the Whakaari eruption and the 2010 Pike River explosion.

"I've seen those comments... as I say, that sort of grief, frustration, possibly anger from family members and the like is understandable, but we're in recovery at the moment. There will be a time for asking these sorts of questions."

It comes after criticism of police handling of the incident by a family member of one of the victims.

1pm - There has been a strong 5.3 magnitude earthquake south of Gisborne. 

It was felt in Whakatane. 

The developing story can be found here.

12:55pm - A close relative of missing guide Tipene Maangi who is believed to have been on White Island when the volcano erupted says the 24-year-old wasn't supposed to work on Monday. 

Maangi began his job with White Island Tours in September and was "really enjoying" the position.

The full story can be found here.

12:50pm - Auckland Rescue Helicopter chief pilot Roger Hortop has spoken to Newshub about landing on White Island.

His team got underway at around 2:40pm and flew directly to Whakatane airfield. They were tasked to help with the rescue and help get paramedics off the island who had earlier been taken there.

Hortop said most of the survivors had already been rescued by marine vessels, so by the time helicopters arrived there were few survivors on the island.

When landing, the helicopter pilots needed to be aware of the smoke and dust.

"Where we landed was a reasonable distance from the explosion area," he said

"From a risk point of view, we determined it was less than ideal to be there, but due to the reasons for being there, we really wanted to try and get out medical teams in there if there were any survivors."

He has praised other pilots who went to the island before his team.

12:45pm - Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin is questioning whether New Zealand could deal with a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Whakaari disaster. 

"We've never had as many Royal Commissions going as we have right now so another one I think we'd be very hard-pressed to make sure that we had that calibre of individual we needed to lead it."

Earlier, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show that there "absolutely" would be an inquiry.

The full story can be found here.

12:15pm-  Labour MP Kiri Allen has shared images of the Prime Minister meeting with first responders.

12:10pm - GeoNet has released its second Volcanic Alert Bulletin, saying that steam and gas is still coming from an active vent.

"Since the eruption, seismic activity has dropped to low levels and there has been no further eruptive activity. However, we are still observing localised steam and mud jetting from the active vent area," said the bulletin.

"Over the next 24 hours we estimate an equal likelihood of either no eruption or a smaller/similar sized eruption that would impact the main crater floor. There is a high level of uncertainty associated with this estimate. We also estimate the least likely scenario is a larger eruption. There is an extremely low likelihood of any ash impact to the mainland, but gas may be smelt depending on the prevailing wind direction."

GeoNet is attempting to collect gas data to "aid in future prognosis of the volcano".

The alert level remains at 3 with the aviation colour code at Orange.

12pm - Col Beaman, a passenger on the Ovation of the Seas, saying the eruption and loss of life has left the cruise ship in mourning. 

"It's quite sombre as you would expect. People are trying to cope, assimilate the tragedy," he told Newshub.

"The staff and the crew are doing their best to keep everyone well-served and in spirits but you can sense the atmosphere obviously has changed.

"Fortunately, we're able to continue on with the holiday with the cruise when we're allowed to leave. We'll find out later today when that will be."

11:50am - Police Minister Stuart Nash is rejecting a "very unfair" comparison made between authorities' handling of the Whakaari/White Island eruption and the 2010 Pike River mine disaster. 

"I think that's very unfair," Nash told reporters in Parliament on Tuesday, when asked about the comparison made by one of the White Island eruption victim's brother. 

The full story can be found here.

11:40am - The mother of an American woman who suffered severe burns in the White Island eruption says she is 'livid' tourists were allowed on the island. 

Barbara Barham's daughter, Lauren Urey, was among those injured when the volcano exploded on Monday afternoon. Urey, along with her husband Matthew, had been on the island as part of an excursion from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.

The full story can be found here.

11:35am - The Canterbury DHB says that eight patients affected by the eruption were transported to their hospitals. However, they wouldn't say what their statuses are.

11:30am - GeoNet says it will be releasing an updated Volcanic Alert Bulletin soon.

11:25am - Photos have been posted to Twitter claiming to have been taken at White Island minutes before it went off. This has not been independently verified.

11:20am - A former Married at First Sight star is under fire for tagging a post about earphones with the location of White Island.

Find the full story here.

11:10am - The Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, has tweeted that he will head to Whakatane to support those responding to the tragedy.

"I'm hearing incredible stories of bravery about Kiwis coming to the aid of those affected.

"My and Natalie's thoughts go out to all those families waiting for news or already dealing with the unthinkable and to our emergency services and health workers working around the clock. New Zealand is behind you."

The New Zealand Green Party also sends aroha to the families.

11am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is meeting with first responders. She gives many a big hug.

As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Newshub.
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Newshub.
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:50am - ABC journalist Donna Field is on the Ovation of the Seas ship and says it is surreal on board on Tuesday morning. 

"The Captain of Ovation of the Seas says the tragedy on White Island is unfathomable. He’s offered his condolences to those families onboard who are affected," she said.

"Another announcement from the Capt to say the Ovation of the Seas will remain in port in Tauranga while they await more news from NZ authorities."

Floral tributes continue to be left at the Ports of Tauranga, including by local Jill Martin.

"It seems to affect you because cruise ships are such a big part of the area, especially this time of the year," she told Newshub.

"You just feel it, even though I don't know anyone involved… it's very very sad."

Flowers at the Ports of Tauranga.
Flowers at the Ports of Tauranga. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:40am - Newshub has crafted a map of White Island showing the key points.

White Island map.
White Island map. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:35am - Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters has released images taken of White Island.

As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters.
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters.
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters.
As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters.

10:15am - Health Minister David Clark has acknowledgedthe doctors, nurses and allied health workers involved in the disaster.

"There are a large number of hospitals involved across the system and I want to acknowledge the workers there: the doctors, the nurses, and allied health workers who are supporting those who are in a challenging situation," he said.

"We have very skilled medical practitioners across our system. Obviously, there is a high demand on services, and so I do want to acknowledge the work that's going on there and the people in the hospitals that are responding with compassion and skill."

10:10am - The chair of the organisation that owns White Island Tours told RNZ that the heightened alert levels didn't meet its threshold to stop operations. Volcanic unrest prompted GNS Science to rise its alert to level 2 in November. 

10:05am - Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the White Island eruption is a "horrific tragedy".

"It’'s also an evolving one and I know that makes things difficult, both for the families and friends of those involved, but also for the media and the wider public because we are still getting all of the information," he said.

"The focus for the day is on making sure we support the families and those who are directly involved. Our focus very much today is on what is a recovery operation and supporting those who are directly involved."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says thoughts are being sent to those affected.

10am - Around 50 staff and 30 friends and family have just left the White Island headquarters to attend a karakia at the local marae. They were upset and holding on to each other as they walked in.

As it happened: Missing Australian woman found alive but severely burned
Photo credit: Newshub.

9:55am - Hutt Hospital says it is treating four patients from White Island. Waikato Hospital is treating eight in a critical condition.

9:50am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived Whakatane hospital. She is meeting with medical staff there. All patients have been moved to other hospitals.

9:40am - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is speaking to media. He sends his thoughts to affected Aussies and Kiwis. He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

He said the 24 Australians that visited White Island are aged between 17 and 72. 

Morrison has been to White Island himself in the past.

Thirteen of the Australians are hospitalised. Eleven are unaccounted for. Up to three of the five dead confirmed could be Australians, but Morrison says this has not been confirmed.

"This is a very, very hard day."

He said after speaking to Jacinda Ardern, the operation has moved into a "recovery phase".

Payne expects the news to be "sombering" in relation to the 11 unaccounted for. She has been in contact with deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Consulate support is being spent to New Zealand.

9:30am - Speaking to The AM Show earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed there will be an inquiry into the tragedy, including why tourists were able to go to the island.

The full story can be found here.

9:20am - White Island's eruption has made headlines around the world with the tragedy being reported by everyone from The New York Times to Spain's El País newspaper. 

"New Zealand Volcano Eruption Leaves 'No Signs of Life' on White Island", The New York Times wrote, with video of the eruption appearing high on the newspaper's website on Tuesday morning (NZ time).

CNNThe Washington Post and many other US publications also had articles on the eruption.

9am - Gerry Brownlee, the former Civil Defence Minister, told The AM Show on Tuesday morning that it was a grim situation.

"New Zealand is a country where you have to accept you live with your risk. There is nowhere in the country that there isn't some risk of some geological activity causing disruption in your life."

He said it was too soon to decide whether to stop tours to the island. He doesn't believe the recovery operation will be a "simple matter".

But Brownlee said it was useful for scientists to study the volcano.

8:50am - A statement has been released by the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ).

"We were shocked to hear the news about the eruption and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones or have not been able to contact them," said president Gary Taylor.

"FDANZ has already started preparations to support those impacted by this terrible tragedy."

The organisation works with the NZ Funeral Disaster Response Team, that helped respond to the Christchurch earthquake and the March 15 attacks.

Simon Manning of Harbour City Funerals said there was an extra layer of complexity as international repatriations are expected.

8:40am - Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, says his people are thinking of the families affected by the volcanic disaster.

"Tragic news from New Zealand this morning. Canadians are thinking of the families & loved ones of everyone affected by the deadly volcano eruption on White Island. And we're wishing a full & speedy recovery to everyone that was injured."

8:30am - Local MP Anne Tolley has tweeted that it is a "tragic time in Whakatane".

"Our thoughts are with the families of all who are affected. Our thanks go to our heroic first responders and the staff of White Island Tours who risked their own lives to save visitors to Whakaari."

8:25am - Newshub reporter Emma Cropper has told The AM Show that family members of the eight people missing on White Island have been at the emergency services centre.

"They have been down here this morning, just staring out at the island, probably feeling quite helpless about what they can do."

She says floral tributes are being laid for the victims.

8:15am - A video of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's press conference can be found here.

8am - WeatherWatch is forecasting strong winds on Tuesday blowing south-east. 

"It should be dry today despite a few light showers tracking by overnight around White Island.  There were some offshore thunderstorms last night too, well north of the island," the weather forecaster says.

"The stronger winds today may make for choppier seas, with swells of 1 to 1.5 metres forecast."

7:55am - Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, has sent his sympathies to New Zealanders and those caught in the disaster.

"Devastating scenes in New Zealand. I’ve been in contact with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to express our deepest sympathies. There are many people still feared missing, and my heart goes out to all those affected and their families."

7:50am - British High Commissioner to New Zealand Laura Clarke has confirmed two British women have been hospitalised. 

"My team are deploying to offer assistance in person, & we remain in close contact with New Zealand authorities. We will do all we can to help any other Brits who need our help."

7:45am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking to The AM Show.

She said police are "eager" to undertake a "recovery", but must rely on scientific advice.

"It is described as a very unpredictable volcano."

A number of people with burn injuries are in a "critical condition", the Prime Minister says. She wouldn't confirm if children were injured.

On whether there will be an inquiry into health and safety procedures and an investigation into the tour operations - "absolutely", she says.

There will be no people visiting the island until given the all go by police and GNS scientists.

Four helicopters were involved in the rescue efforts.

"Obviously putting themselves in huge danger to do that," Ardern said. She doesn't know the pilots' names but is sure they will be recognised. The pilot who got out and looked around the island did this after the initial rescue operation. 

7:30am - Labour MP Kiri Allen has shared numerous photos from where authorities are based in Whakatane. National's Judith Collins has also sent her thoughts.

7:20am - Ardern says the focus is on the "recovery" operation, but says there will be an investigation on why people were on White Island when the alert level was so high.

"There are a number of questions that I absolutely expect and anticipate will be asked."

She says there is no where anyone on the island could have taken shelter.

One pilot walked around the island on foot, but found no sign of life.

7:15am - Police do not believe anyone else has survived the explosion. This is based on aerial searches.  During those searches, some of the missing people were seen on the island.

7:10am - Whakatane Mayor Judy Turner is praising the efforts of emergency services. She thanked the Prime Minister and Civil Defence Minister for coming to Whakatane so quickly.

Turner said there were three eruptions and "there is an unpredictable ongoing volcanic activity".

7:05am - Forty-seven went onto the island on Monday.

Five people are died, 31 are in hospital, eight are missing and three have been discharged.

Among those injured and missing are New Zealanders, Australians, Brits, Americans, Chinese and Malaysians among others. Kiwis were part of the tour operation.

Police are working with experts to decide when it will be safe to return to the island and "recover" the missing.

7am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking to the media. She confirms there were two explosions in quick succession at 2:11pm on Monday.

Ardern said helicopters flew to the island following the eruption and took survivors back to the mainland.

"I want to acknowledge the courageous decision made by first responders and those pilots, who in an immediate rescue effort, made an incredibly brave decision under an extraordinarily dangerous circumstances in an attempt to get people out."

She says there were two groups on the island. One was rescued, one was closer to the crater during the eruption.

"We share in your unfathomable grief at this moment in time and in your sorrow. Your loved ones stood alongside Kiwis who were hosting you here. We grieve with you and we grieve with them."

Ardern said she would support our "Australian family".

The Prime Minister also acknowleged local MP Anne Tolley.

6:55am - The AM Show's Australian correspondent Jason Morrison said the "inevitable" is a recovery operation rather than a rescue. 

6:50am - Former Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne is paying tribute to Marshall-Inman, the eruption's first identified victim.

Speaking to The AM Show, Bonne said the White Island Tours guide was "full of life".

"The reality is hitting us now in the town and the town has gone very quiet."

Bonne said the tours to the island is a pivotal part of Whakatane's economy, with many tourism operators linked to Whakaari.

He says operators have a good safety procedure in place, but he didn't realise how quick the volcano could erupt.

6:35am - MagicTalk producer Brin Rudkin spoke to The AM Show on Tuesday morning from Tauranga, where the Ovation of the Seas is docked. It was meant to depart the port on Monday night, but remained due to large number of passengers affected.

Rudkin said it was a very "eerie" feeling at the wharf where the ship is docked.

"Flowers and even a New Zealand flag have started to appear at the gates to the Port of Tauranga as people start to pay their respects to those caught in the eruption," he said.

It's understood most of the ship's passengers are Australians.

6:20am - A controversial Australian politician has been criticised online for a tweet in response to the White Island eruption. 

Former Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm responded to a video of the eruption by saying: "But the emissions...".

Leyonhjelm is well-known for being hostile to the Australian Green party and opposing many of their environmental policies.

6:10am - Twenty-eight people of a range of nationalities from the Ovation of the Seas are suspected to have visited White Island on Monday.

A list of people registered as missing can be found on the Red Cross' Family Links website.

It includes people from Britain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States among other countries. 

International media - such as the BBC, the Washington Post and the Telegraph - are reporting on those missing from their home countries. 

The list should not be taken as an official list of missing people, however, as it only contains people reported as missing by friends and family.

5:55am - Tony Bonne, the former Whakatane mayor, told Newshub the local man who passed away in the eruption on Monday was a keen, energetic sportsman well known in the community.

The man is understood by Newshub to be tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, a White Island Tour guide.

Bonne said he knew the man well and taught him to dive.

"When I heard who it was that passed away, I felt really numb. I know the person. Like a lot of people, we know him.

"He is an experienced person and it is a shock to find somebody so young taken from our lives and it is just… the community will be weeping."

The former mayor also sent his love to the other victims.

"[It is a] real tragedy for the Whakatane district."

A post on Facebook by his brother said it was "very sad news". 

5:40am - The New Zealand Defence Force is approaching the island to deploy drones and other equipment to observe the volcano. GeoNet previously told police the island was "unstable".

5:30am - The AM Show has begun at the earlier time of 5:30am to bring the latest information on the disaster.

5:25am - The White Island tours website has been replaced with an emergency message.

"We are currently experiencing an emergency. For further information, please contact us directly."

5:15am - Austrialian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Monday that 24 Australians had been on the island at the time of eruption. 

In a further statement released early on Tuesday morning, Morrison said he had spoken to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but there was a lack of comprehensive information. The 24 Australians had been part of a cruise ship group.

No details were released about whether any of the Australians are among the dead, but Morrison said some had been hospitalised.

"He hope to know more in the morning, however we must prepare for some difficult news in the days ahead," he said.

He and his wife Jenny thanked the emergency services and New Zealanders for their support.

"Kia Kaha to us all on both sides of the Tasman."

5am - White Island Tours, one of the primary island tour operators, released a statement late on Monday saying it was deeply saddened by the eruption. 

"Devastation is an understatement.  This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been impacted," said chairman Paul Quinn.

"We acknowledge the considerable efforts from Police and Civil Defence and will continue to do whatever is necessary throughout the rescue operation."

4:50am - The latest update released early on Tuesday says police do not believe anyone remains alive on White Island. 

Since the eruption, the police eagle helicopter, rescue helicopter and New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aircraft have undertaken several aerial reconnaissance flights over the island.

"No signs of life have been seen at any point," the statement says.

"Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island."

Twenty-three people were rescued on Monday from the island, with five from that group confirmed dead. Police deputy commissioner John Tims said on Monday that more people remained on the island, likely into the double-digits. 

"Both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are believed to be involved, and a number were from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship," the statement says. 

At first light on Tuesday, the NZDF will approach the perimeter of the island to deploy drones and observational equipment. The Police Disaster Identification (DVI) team is also assembling in Whakatane to await deployment.

No rescue or recovery mission has been launched on the island itself due to advice from GeoNet suggesting it is unstable. 

People wanting to submit information about friends or family who were visiting White Island can ring 105. People from overseas can call +64 9105 105. 

They can also use the online form at the Police website here.