Smoke bellows from Whakaari, also known as White Island, volcano as it erupts in New Zealand, December 9, 2019, in this image obtained via social media.  - Sputnik International

Live Updates: At Least Five People Die in New Zealand Volcano Eruption

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New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said early Monday that a volcanic eruption was occurring on White Island and was "hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano".

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that about 100 tourists were on or near White Island when it erupted in the afternoon.

She added that "Some of those, at this stage, are unaccounted for".

The volcano on White Island is the most active in New Zealand. The last eruption took place here in 2013.

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08:32 GMT 09.12.2019

According to Mr John R Macnaughtan, Honorary Consul for the Russian Federation, from the 50 people that were missing, 23 reached the coast, with 1 dying after escaping the eruption. He noted that the fate of the 27 others remains unknown

08:20 GMT 09.12.2019

According to official reports, at least five people are dead, while the number of missing individuals on the island hit by the volcanic eruption is in double digits. The New Zealand Herald reported, citing authorities, that there are foreigners among the new victims of the natural disaster.

06:58 GMT 09.12.2019
05:59 GMT 09.12.2019
05:40 GMT 09.12.2019
04:35 GMT 09.12.2019

"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", police say noting that at least one person transported from the island had received critical injuries.

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