The death toll from the eruption of the White Island volcano in New Zealand, one of the country's most visited tourist attractions, has increased to five, police said today.
In addition to the five dead, "18 people were injured, some with severe burns," police deputy commissioner John Tims said.
According to the authorities, a group of at least ten tourists are still missing.
The New Zealand agency GeoNet, which monitors the volcanic and seismological activity in the country, indicated that a moderate volcanic eruption occurred at 2:11 pm (1:11 am in Lisbon) and warned of possible new eruptions or earthquakes.
Tourists were traveling on the uninhabited island of Whakaari, where the White Island volcano is located, when the eruption occurred, throwing rocks and a large ash cloud.
Emergency crews, supported by seven helicopters, are on the ground removing the affected people, some of whom were near the crater minutes before the eruption, according to images from a tracking camera installed in the area.
Authorities established a security perimeter around the island and immediately canceled all excursions, including those of tourist boats around the island which is visited annually by about 10,000 people.
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