Police are continuing to work with the National Emergency Management Agency to coordinate a search and rescue operation following a volcanic eruption at Whakaari / White Island this afternoon.
The eruption occurred about 2:11pm.
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.
There remain a number of people on the island who are unaccounted for.
Both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are believed to be involved.
At this stage, we can confirm there has been one fatality, and based on the information we have it is likely there are others.
A number of injured people have been transported to Whakatane Hospital and Middlemore Hospital.
Police are leading the search and rescue operation and we are working at pace to confirm the numbers of those involved.
The island is currently covered in ash and we are taking expert advice with regards to the conditions to determine when we can safety access the island.
We will provide more details as soon as we are in a position to do so.
People in the area should continue to go to the Civil Defence and Emergency Management website for any safety advice: www.civildefence.govt.nz/
Issued by Police Media Centre