Up to 20 people are believed to have been injured Monday in a volcano eruption on New Zealand's popular White Island. A number of those affected were tourists.
About 50 people were believed to be on the island at the time of the eruption. The civil defence authority warned that the situation was hazardous “in the immediate vicinity of the volcano”. Judy Turner, the mayor of Whakatāne , the seaside town closest to White Island , said there were people nearby at the time the volcano erupted. Some people are unaccounted for. A police statement said officers were supporting other emergency services and that it was an “evolving situation”. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that search and rescue crews were assisting at the site of the eruption. The White Island or Whakaari volcano is New Zealand's most active cone volcano, with more than 150,000 years of volcanic activity.
At this time the Volcanic Alert Level has been raised to 4, and the Aviation Color code is orange. Whakaari/White Island is one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes and this is an attraction for tourists. More than 10,000 people visit the island every year. White Island last experienced a short-lived eruption in 2016, in which no one was hurt.