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20 people injured after violent volcano eruption off New Zealand coast

20 people injured after violent volcano eruption off New Zealand coast

An eruption from a volcano on White Island in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty has taken course, with unconfirmed reports of up to 20 people injured.

The New Zealand Herald reported rescue helicopters are on the way to the island and it is understood up to 100 people may have been on the island at the time of its disastrous eruption.

White Island Tours boats were reportedly near the island.

A level four alert has been raised – it is the second highest rating meaning there is an eruption hazard on and near the volcano.

The island is 48 kilometres from the Bay of Plenty, a bight in the northern coast of New Zealand's North Island.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) released a national warning statement for a moderate volcanic eruption, describing the environment as “hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano”.

“Volcanic hazards may impact areas on and near the volcano. Ashfall may impact areas distant from the volcano. People should stay out of designated restricted zones.”

Cameras positioned near the volcano was believed to have displayed people hiking near the eruption site shortly before the explosion.

Geological hazard trackers GeoNet had noted there had been somewhat of a moderate volcanic unrest on the island for weeks, before Monday afternoon's eruption.

Dan Harvey, a man fishing approximately 40 km from the island, told The New Zealand Herald a dark plume of smoke projected into the sky about 2.15pm.

“I looked over and saw a burst of steam coming up. There was nothing above the island at that time. It was just clear blue sky. It was unusual to see it go from nothing to steam erupting out of it,” he said.

MORE TO COME.

Image: Instagram @byminke