White Island volcano eruption causes ‘multiple injuries’
A volcanic eruption is occurring at White Island and is hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, New Zealand's Emergency Management Agency confirmed.
St John's ambulance service confirmed that there were up to 20 people injured following the eruption at around 2.15pm on Monday.
It is understood that up to 100 people were either on or near the island at the time of the eruption, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
She added: "At this stage, we believe 100 people were on, or around the island."
"Some of those are unaccounted – she said the situation is “significant”.
A photo has emerged following the incident that appears to show people in the centre of the crater minutes before the eruption.
A rescue operation is underway and several helicopters have bee dispatched to the scene, as clouds of white soot billowing from the centre of the crater.
There are unconfirmed reports of explosions following the eruption.
Several people have reportedly been critically injured and and Emergency operation centre has been set up at Whakatane Hospital to work alongside Civil Defence.
Civil Defence is warning people who live close to White Island to stay indoors.
People living in or near the area have been warned to beware of ashfall and have been reminded to keep all windows closed.
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