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New Zealand volcano: five dead after White Island eruption

New Zealand volcano: five dead after White Island eruption
This aerial photo shows White Island after its volcanic eruption in New Zealand Monday. (AP)
WELLINGTON, DEC 9 (AGENCEIS) | Publish Date: 12/9/2019 12:49:12 PM IST

Five people have been confirmed dead after the volcano on New Zealand’s White Island erupted, and up to two dozen people remain unaccounted for as unstable conditions, toxic gases and ash fall prevent rescue teams from searching the island.

The country’s most active cone volcano erupted at 2.11pm on Monday, sending up a huge plume of ash that was visible from the east coast of the North Island.

Police said about 50 people were on the island at the time, more than 20 of whom were Australian tourists. Twenty-three people have been rescued, and five have since died. All of those rescued had sustained injuries, mostly burns, police said, and seven people who were in a critical condition had been flown to hospitals in Tauranga and Auckland.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, who was en route to the nearby coastal town of Whakatane on Monday evening, said the situation was “significant and evolving”. John Tims, the deputy police commissioner of district operations, said at least two dozen people remained on the island, but he could not be sure of the exact number, nor when a rescue mission would be possible.

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