On Monday, December 9, a volcanic eruption on New Zealand’s White Island killed at least five people and injured dozens more – including two Chinese nationals, Xinhua reported.
According to New Zealand police, 47 people were on the island at the time of the volcano blast, with eight people still missing and 31 people hospitalized. Three people have been discharged from medical facilities, as of press time.
After the volcanic eruption, helicopter crews landed on the island and helped evacuate survivors, with some suffering from severe burns. According to Time magazine, an intensive care paramedic worker described the scene as being similar to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster – covered in ash.
Of the five deceased victims, one was a New Zealand tour guide leader while the other victims’ nationalities have yet to be confirmed. Tourists from Britain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, China, Malaysia and the US were all said to have been on the island when the volcano erupted.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed local media following the tragic event, saying “no signs of life have been seen at any point” on the island after multiple aerial reconnaissance flights were made following the eruption, Xinhua reported.
White Island is said to be one of several volcanoes on the island country that can erupt at any given time, according to Shane Cronin, a professor of Earth Sciences at University of Auckland. The island is a famous attraction for tourists in New Zealand, and can be explored via boat or helicopter. Visitors can even check out the main crater if conditions are suitable.
Scientists noted increased volcanic activity in recent weeks, which has led many to question why tourists were still permitted on the island. New Zealand police have opened a criminal investigation into the tourists’ deaths on the volcanic island.
At 10am, a 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit 25 kilometers south of the city of Gisborne. The earthquake’s epicenter is 146 kilometers from White Island, with nearby cities reportedly feeling tremors from the quake, according to CCTV News.
Watch below to see the aftermath of the volcanic eruption (VPN off):
[Cover image via @央视新闻/Weibo]