It has been 18 years since the last significant volcanic eruption rocked White Island in New Zealand. There had been minor tremors, but nothing to the scale of Monday’s blast. Unfortunately, fifty tourists were on the island at the time, and five people have been declared dead from the blast, with over 20 more people still missing.
The eruption took place at 2:11 p.m. A security camera captured the moments before the eruption took place. Numerous people could be seen walking around the volcano before the camera cuts to black from the force of the eruption.
Eighteen survivors were taken away right after the eruption. Authorities have stated that 27 others are missing and are presumed dead, the Daily Mail reported. Boats and helicopters canvased the area looking for survivors, but conditions became too harsh for them to continue.
The next morning officials searched the island by air but stated “no signs of life have been seen at any point.” Of the 27 missing, a few are thought to be tourists from other countries as well.
Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, said: “I know there will be a huge amount of anxiety for those who have loved ones on or around the island at the time. I can assure them police are doing everything they can.”
White Island is a tourist hot spot as thousands of people flock to the volcanic island from all over the globe. A large percentage of those missing had come from a Royal Caribbean cruise, which stopped and unloaded their guests onto the volcano island.
Authorities are asking people to stay away from the area so first responders can have easy access to the area. They also have no way of knowing if another eruption will occur.
“It was not a particularly big eruption, it was almost like a throat-clearing eruption and that’s why material probably won’t make it to mainland New Zealand,” Dr. Ken Gledhill said. “We can’t be certain it won’t erupt again in the next 24 hours.”
The last eruption took place in 2001, but was nowhere near this scale of destruction and death as previous eruptions.