Shocking videos have captured the moment a volcano eruption on White Island in New Zealand sent plumes of ash and smoke 12,000 feet into the air. The volcano erupted unexpectedly at 2.11pm on Monday. Police say that some 50 people were visiting White Island when the volcano erupted, killing five and injuring at least 18 others. Two dozen people managed to make it off the island that is popular with tourists.
Tourist Michael Schade made it off the island just in time and was able to capture footage of the devastation.
"My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for the first time since 2001," he wrote, sharing a video of the aftermath. "Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable."
His video shows smoke seemingly engulf the whole island, blocking it from view. Other videos that he posted on Twitter also show tourists along the shore of White Island, waiting to be evacuated as smoke and debris fill the sky.
Mr Schade also shared pictures from the scene of eruption. While the island is visible in the first one, it appears to be completely engulfed by smoke, toxic gases and ash fall in the others.
Checked photo timestamps. Last photo from me standing on the land was 13:49; this first photo of the eruption was 14:12, about a minute or two into the eruption. pic.twitter.com/hyqQuO4vNq— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
White Island -- - also known as Whakaari -- is about 50 kilometres offshore in the Bay of Plenty. It is New Zealand's most active volcano cone and welcomes around 10,000 tourists every year.
While 23 people were rescued after the eruption, others are still on the island. "We are unsure of the numbers and unsure of their well-being," deputy police commissioner John Tims told a news conference, adding that rescuers could not access the island. "The physical environment is unsafe for us to return," he said.