At least 5 dead, 8 others presumed dead

A volcanic eruption in New Zealand killed at least five people and left eight others presumed dead Monday on a small volcanic island off the country’s northeast coast.

Police said that White Island, also called Whakaari, was still too dangerous for search and rescue crews but that multiple reconnaissance aircraft flew over the island since the eruption Monday afternoon and “no signs of life have been seen at any point.”

“I fear there is worse news to come over the course of perhaps today or over the next few days,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “This is a terrible tragedy, a time of great innocence and joy interrupted by the horror of that eruption.”

Of the 47 people on the island at the time, authorities said 31 survivors were hospitalized, some with severe burns. Three other survivors were released. 

“Anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation,” police said in a news release.

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