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New Zealand volcano erupts, 13 feared dead

Tourists took almost unbelievable images while escaping a deadly tower of ash on New Zealand's White Island, eight 'remain unaccounted for,' police said.
Credit: Michael Schade/Twitter

A New Zealand volcanic island erupted, billowing a deadly tower of ash Monday as dozens of tourists were exploring it. At least five are confirmed dead and "eight people remain unaccounted for following the eruption," according to New Zealand police. Authorities say survivors have been moved to hospitals throughout the country so that they can receive specialized care. 

As the Associated Press reports, the site was still too dangerous hours after the eruption for police and rescuers to search for the missing and presumed dead. 

Police say there have been "no signs of life" seen during a number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since the eruption. 

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," police said in a statement. 

According to police in New Zealand, early Tuesday morning 47 people were on White Island when the eruption occurred. 31 patients are currently being treated at seven hospitals around New Zealand. Both New Zealand citizens and international tourists were on the island at the time of the eruption, according to authorities. 

Police say that 37 passengers and one crew member from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship called Ovation of the Seas were visiting White Island when the eruption happened.  

New Zealand's White Island is located about 29 miles off the coast of country's north island. 

Those near the island when the eruption was happening were able to capture videos from boats they were on, and post them to social media. 

Twitter user Michael Schade posted a video to the platform writing, "My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before...Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable ."

Schade also tweeted video on a boat escaping the danger.

And helicopters that appeared to be destroyed on the island.

Scientists noted an uptick in volcanic activity on the Island, and the GeoNet agency said a moderate eruption did occur, and the organization elevated the alert level to four. Five represents a major eruption on their scale.

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Twelve people died on White Island in 1914 after parts of a crater wall collapsed, leading to a landslide that destroyed both a sulfur mine and the miners' village, according to the Associated Press.

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