By News Desk
After much search and rescue, New Zealand Government has disclosed that the death toll from the White Island volcanic eruption has increased and missing figures doubles.
About 50 tourists were believed to be in the immediate areas of the volcano when it exploded, sending massive plumes of steam and debris into the air.
Confirming the increase in death toll, the Country’ deputy police commissioner, John Tims, said that it was initially too dangerous to attempt rescues. St John Ambulance said that 23 people, believed to be tourists from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship, had been removed from the island.
The Police said: “While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, we now believe there were fewer than 50.”
“Some of those people have been transported to shore, however a number believed to be on the island are currently unaccounted for.
A crater rim camera owned and operated by New Zealand geological hazards agency GeoNet shows groups of people walking near the rim inside the crater, where white smoke constantly billows at a low level, in the hour leading up to the eruption at 2:11 p.m.
The camera, along with three others from different vantage points, captures and posts images online of the volcano, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, every 10 minutes.
At 2:00 p.m. the crater rim camera catches a group of people – tiny specks in relation to the vast volcano – right at the edge of the rim.
Just a minute before the eruption – the group is headed away from the rim, following a well-worn track across the crater.
It is unclear whether the group, which appears to be made up of around a dozen people, were alerted to flee or were continuing a tour, unaware of the looming danger.
The next camera shot at 2:20 p.m. appears to show a piece of hardware, as though the camera has fallen or been damaged.
At least one person was killed, several injured and others reported missing after the eruption. Rescue helicopters were sent to the island, which is uninhabited but is frequently visited by tourists on day trips.
The other three cameras trained on the volcano show a similar trajectory in the images captured at 2:20 p.m. The crater floor camera goes black, the west rim camera shows a massive plume of black and gray smoke.
A camera showing the entire island from the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, about 50 km (30 miles) away, recorded the smoke plume rising thousands of feet into the sky.