At least five people were killed and 18 others injured after New Zealand’s White Island volcano erupted suddenly on Monday, Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said at a press conference.
The police said 23 people has been rescued, and there are no more survivors of the volcanic eruption since “no signs of life have been seen at any point”.
Police believe less than 50 people were on or near the island at the time of eruption, while it was initially thought there were approximately 100.
Police say it’s “too dangerous” for rescue services to go to White Island as there are likely to be more fatalities.
“There have been no casualties reported for Chinese nationals so far, and we will keep close communication with New Zealand’s government on this incident,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Monday.
The eruption began about 2:30 p.m. local time (0130 GMT) on the island, about 50 kilometers from the east coast of North Island, spewing smoke and debris into the air.
Earlier, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the eruption at White Island, saying that around 100 people were around or on the island at this stage and not all of them are accounted for.
“It is very much an evolving situation and of course all our thoughts are with those affected,” Ardern told the media shortly after the incident.
An emergency rescue operation is underway.
The White Island volcano is among New Zealand’s most active volcanoes.