One fatality confirmed in Whakaari - White Island eruption

By Te Ao - Māori News

Police have confirmed one fatality following an eruption on Whakaari - White Island earlier today, and based on the information they have, they say it is likely there are others.

While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, it is now believed there were fewer than 50.

Some of those people have been transported to shore, however, a number believed to be on the island are currently unaccounted for.

At a stand-up in the Beehive this evening, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reassured those concerned that Police are doing everything they can to assist people who were on or around the vicinity of the island at the time of the eruption.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also stood up their systems to assist with any response required for those further afield, PM Ardern explained.

The PM is expected to arrive in the area this evening alongside Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare.

Police say both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are believed to be involved.

A number of injured people have been transported to Whakatāne Hospital and Middlemore Hospital.

Police are leading the search and rescue operation and are working at pace to confirm the numbers of those involved.

The island is currently covered in ash and Police are taking expert advice with regards to the conditions to determine when the island can be accessed safely. 

Police advise people in the area to check the Civil Defence and Emergency Management website for any safety advice: www.civildefence.govt.nz/

More details to come.