'The island is unstable' - Possibility of further White Island eruptions, police warn

Source: 1News

The death toll from today's White Island eruption has risen to five, police confirmed tonight, while the island itself is at risk of further eruptions.

Mulltiple nationalities are among those to have died.

Fronting media this evening, police deputy commissioner John Tims updated the current situation at White Island, where the number of deceased has risen from the one person reported earlier.

"There are five people now deceased from the eruption on White Island," Mr Tims told media.

"A number of other people have been taken to Whakatāne Hospital and Middlemore Hospital. A number of people have burns as a result of the eruption.

"It is still too early for police to confirm how many people are involved. We continue to work as quickly as we can, through a number of channels of information to confirm exact numbers, including how many people are still on the island."

Mr Tims also confirmed that the current situation means emergency services are unable to access the island.

"We have taken advice from GeoNet, and they have assisted us in making a risk assessment that the island is unstable.

"There are possibilities of further eruptions, but actually the physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island."

Police were also unable to confirm as to whether or not those still on the island are still alive, with the number of people still on White Island possibly in double digits.

No timeframe has been given as to a possible return to the island from emergency services.

Those wishing to contact police from within New Zealand are being urged to do so on the 10-5 number.