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Five die in New Zealand’s volcanic eruption

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Five die in New Zealand’s volcanic eruption

A volcano has erupted in New Zealand, leaving five dead and several unaccounted for, police said on Monday.

Tourists were seen walking inside the rim of the White Island crater just moments before the eruption.

Police said 23 people had been rescued but warned conditions were hampering rescue efforts.

The New Zealand military is now helping police, the BBC reports.

White Island, also known as Whakaari, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes.

Despite that, the privately-owned island is a tourist destination with frequent day tours and scenic flights available.

The eruption of White Island began around 14:11 local time (01:11 GMT).

Visitor Michael Schade – who was on a boat leaving the island after a morning tour – filmed a thick plume of ash and smoke as the volcano erupted.

He told journalists he was at the crater just 30 minutes before the eruption.

“It was still safe-ish but they were trying to limit the group sizes [of people visiting the volcano].”

Describing the eruption, he said: “We had just got on the boat…then someone pointed it out and we saw it. I was basically just shocked.

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“The boat turned back and we grabbed some people that were waiting on the pier.”

Another witness, Brazilian Allessandro Kauffmann, narrowly missed the eruption.

“There were two tours that went to this volcano today. One of them was ours, which was the first. We left five minutes before the volcano erupted,” he posted on Instagram in Portuguese.

“This other tour that arrived right after, unfortunately they did not manage to leave in time, and there were some people that suffered serious burns.”

A live feed from the volcano showed a group of visitors inside the crater before images went dark.

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