White Island eruption: Five dead with further fatalities expected

Five people are dead following a volcanic eruption on White Island.It is not known how many people are still trapped on the island. 

Twenty-three people have been rescued from the island, with one in critical condition and a further 20 are injured.

Police said on Monday evening that based on the information available further fatalities are expected.

"A number of injured people have been transported to Whakatane Hospital and Middlemore Hospital. We are working at a pace to confirm the numbers of those involved," said deputy police commissioner John Tims. 

The island is still too dangerous for police and rescue teams to visit. Police do not have any contact with anyone on the island. 

Tims confirmed 23 people have been rescued, but a number of tourists still remain on the island. 

It is not known exactly how many people remain trapped, or whether they are alive.

A number of those rescued are in Whakatane and Middlemore hospitals with burns from the eruption. 

Civil Defence said the immediate priority is helping those still trapped on the island. 

"We are working to assess the situation and coordinate any required government resources," said Sarah Stewart Black the director of Civil Defence emergency management

"We do not expect this event to have any significant effects for people on the North Island," she said. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will travel to the Bay of Plenty on Monday evening to ensure police and Civil Defence has all the resources they need.

The volcano erupted at 2:11pm, sending smoke and ash thousands of feet into the air.



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