White Island tour operators rescue people after a deadly volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade took these photos, tweeting that he and his family got off the island only 20 minutes before the eruption. (Michael Schade/Twitter photo)

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Global Affairs Canada has not yet received any reports of Canadian citizens being affected by the volcanic eruption off the New Zealand coast, a spokesperson has confirmed.

The White Island volcano erupted on Monday at about 2 p.m. as dozens of tourists were exploring its moon-like surface — some walking along the rim of the crater just before the eruption — killing five people and leaving eight others missing and feared dead, authorities said.

Hours after the disaster, the site was still too dangerous for rescuers to search for the missing. But aircraft flew over the island repeatedly, and “no signs of life have been seen at any point,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern said the missing and injured included New Zealanders and tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain, and Malaysia. Some of those who were exploring the volcano were passengers from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, docked on neighbouring North Island.

Global Affairs Canada Spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé told Black Press Media the Government of Canada is closely monitoring the situation.

“At this time, there are no reports of any Canadian citizens being affected,” Bérubé said in an email. “Consular officials are in contact with local authorities to gather more information.”

Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the High Commission of Canada in New Zealand at +64 4 473-9577, he added. They can also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre 24/7 at +1 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.

“We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, and wish those injured a speedy recovery.”

READ MORE: 5 dead, many more missing in eruption of New Zealand volcano

According to authorities, 47 people were on the island at the time of the eruption. In addition to the dead and missing, 31 survivors were hospitalized and three others were released. Some of the victims were reported severely burned.

The eruption consisted of two explosions in quick succession, the prime minister said. It sent a plume of steam and ash an estimated 3,660 metres into the air. One of the boats that returned from the island was covered with ash half a meter thick, Ardern said.

The GeoNet agency, which monitors volcanoes and earthquakes in New Zealand, had raised the alert level on White Island on Nov. 18 from 1 to 2 on a scale where 5 represents a major eruption, noting an increase in sulfur dioxide gas, which originates from magma deep in the volcano. It also said that volcanic tremors had increased from weak to moderate strength.

Ardern said White Island is a “very unpredictable volcano,” and questions about whether tourists should be visiting will have to be addressed, “but for now, we’re focused on those who are caught up in this horrific event.”

READ MORE: 320 years since the ‘Big One’ doesn’t mean it’s overdue: Canada Research Chair

— With files from Mark Baker and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni school district takes a week off to plan for online education

All buildings and playgrounds in School District 70 closed to the public

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Most Read