Eight missing after New Zealand volcano eruption | News | DW | 10.12.2019
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Eight missing after New Zealand volcano eruption

New Zealand's prime minister says overnight reconnaissance flights have failed to find signs of life after a volcano erupted off the country's coast, killing six people. Eight missing people are believed dead.

Watch video 01:47

Why were people allowed near rumbling New Zealand volcano?

Eight people are still missing and presumed dead a day after a volcanic eruption shook New Zealand's White Island, police said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would investigate the incident. She told a press conference that aerial reconnaissance flights overnight had not found any survivors.

Unstable conditions on the island were hampering rescue efforts and authorities were assessing whether to send a recovery mission to remove bodies.

"We share in your unfathomable grief in this moment in time," Ardern told victims' families. "The focus this morning is on recovery and ensuring police can do that safely."

Watch video 01:59

New Zealand volcano eruption kills at least five people

Recovery mission 

A total of 47 people were on the island when the volcano erupted on Monday afternoon, sending plumes of ash thousands of meters into the air. Five people died on the island, while a sixth died later in hospital. More than 30 people suffered injuries.

The government said 27 of the injured suffered greater than 71% body surface burns and that it was possible not all would survive. 

Among the injured and missing were 24 people from Australia, nine from the US, four from Germany, two each from China and Britain, one from Malaysia, as well as five from New Zealand.

Separately, police announced they would open an investigation into the deaths of tourists on the island in order to assist the coroner. 
Read moreMount Etna erupts, spews lava chunks

Popular tourist attraction

White Island, known as Whakaari in the Maori language, is the peak of an active submarine volcano that lies some 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the coast of New Zealand's North Island. It draws around 10,000 visitors each year.

Volcano-monitoring agency GeoNet raised the alert level for White Island last month after detecting an increase in volcanic activity. Ardern said any questions about whether tourists should be visiting the area would be addressed once search and rescue efforts were concluded.

Read moreThe Lake Laach volcano in Germany is 'recharging' with fresh magma

White Island is New Zealand's most active cone volcano. It last erupted in 2016, without causing injuries. The last fatal eruption was in 1914, when 12 people were killed.

nm/dr (AFP, dpa, AP)

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