The New Zealand island volcano White Island lies in the bay of Plenty and erupted explosively. Volcanic ash rose to an altitude of 3600 m. The collapsing eruption cloud caused a pyroclastic flow that reached the sea.
The island volcano is a popular tourist attraction. From the coastal town of Whakatane, curious people take off by boat and helicopter to the volcano to see the numerous hydrothermal phenomena. Today at least 5 tourists died on the island, several people were injured. 23 people have been evacuated from the island so far. Most of them showed burns. Up to 27 people could still be on the volcano. Their fate is uncertain. According to media reports, a rescue team was still on its way in the evening, but was not allowed to enter the island because the danger of another eruption was too high.
There were about 100 people in the catchment area of the island when the eruption occurred at 14:11 local time. On video recordings you can see people covered with ashes waiting at the jetty for their boat. Many people only wore shorts and t-shirts. You can also see a destroyed helicopter that had dropped tourists on the island.