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Tourists Missing In New Zealand Volcano Eruption

PostPosted: December 9th, 2019, 4:19 am
by toucana
Image
Destroyed helicopter seen on White island shortly after eruption.

A volcano has erupted in New Zealand, leaving one dead and several unaccounted for, police have said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-50708727

Tourists were seen walking inside the rim of the White Island crater just moments before the eruption.

Police said 23 people had been rescued, but warned the number of dead was "likely" to rise. The area is currently too dangerous for a rescue operation.

White Island, also known in Maori as Whakaari, is one of the country's most active volcanoes.
Despite that, the privately-owned island is a tourist destination with frequent day tours and scenic flights available.

The eruption of White Island began around 14:11 local time (01:11 GMT) on Monday 9th December. Visitors who were near the island on a boat filmed a giant plume of ash and steam rising to around 12,000 feet (3,660m)

Police initially said there were 100 people on or near the island, then later revised down the number to 50.

Some of the visitors are thought to be passengers from cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean. It is currently at port in Tauranga, a coastal city near White Island.

On 3 December, geological hazard monitoring website GeoNet warned "the volcano may be entering a period where eruptive activity is more likely than normal," although they added "the current level of activity does not pose a direct hazard to visitors". GeoNet had raised the alert level to four, on a scale where five represents a major eruption.

Twelve people were killed on the island in 1914 when it was being mined for sulphur. Part of a crater wall collapsed and a landslide destroyed the miners' village and the mine itself.

The remains of buildings from another mining enterprise in the 1920s are now a tourist attraction, according to GeoNet.

The island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit the volcano every year