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

BIA floats idea of drive-through Santa Parade

If event goes ahead, ‘parade’ of cars would stream through fairgrounds

Altercation with gunfire in Langley lands two in hospital

Quiet area of Brookswood was awoken at 5 a.m. Friday morning to a fight involving gun shots

PHOTOS: One injured in shooting on South Surrey-Langley border

Shots reported near 194 Street and 34 Avenue, burned-out vehicle found in 18100-block of 12 Avenue

New Langley highway interchange site of morning crash

Motorists are encouraged to find another route for the rushhour

Gallery 7 launches series of online courses ranging from sound design to playwriting

Abbotsford theatre has plans to launch 2020-2021 season with live shows

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at B.C. border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

PHOTO: RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Motorists had to exercise patience as the slow-moving creature crossed several lanes of traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

Most Read