‘Multiple injuries’ after volcano erupts sending plumes of smoke into air

Multiple people, including tourists, have been injured after a volcano erupted off the coast of New Zealand this morning.

Several also remain unaccounted for following the eruption on White Island, about 50 km (30 miles) from the east coast of North Island, which sent massive plumes of smoke steam and debris into the air.

It is said to have happened around 2.30pm local time (1.30am GMT), with Geonet raising the alert level to four.

Around 10,000 people a year visit the volcano, which is also known by its Māori name Whakaari.

In a statement shared on Twitter, the National Emergency Management Agency called the volcano 'hazardous' and warned people to stay away from the area.

Up to 100 people may have been near the volcano at the time of the eruption, according to reports.

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Footage taken from the volcano’s crater camera appeared to show people there minutes before it erupted.

One reader told SunLive : "My husband is out at sea and it looks like White Island May have erupted.

"It went from nothing to that suddenly popping up and expanding."

Another reader said: "Massive amounts of smoke just came out of White Island. And it is growing."

The TECT Rescue helicopter and the Waikato Westpac Helicopter have been dispatched to White Island and are responding.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the situation was “significant and evolving” and that a number of people were “currently unaccounted for”.

Major Judy Turner said: "I'm not sure if these people were on the island or near it, but there was definitely one group out there and they definitely

needed medical care.

"There were some injuries and focus is on getting these injured people back safely and to get them to a hospital."

She added that there seems to be no danger for the people in the coastal areas, farther from the volcano.

We'll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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