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

Deborah Saucier, Vancouver Island University president and vice-chancellor, was among the panelists in the Future of Post-Secondary Education discussion at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Oct. 28. (VIEA YouTube screenshot)
Island’s universities challenged to ‘build community’ amid remote learning

VIU, UVic and Royal Roads University admin discuss COVID-19 impact at economic summit

John Albert Buchanan, accused in the September 2017 murder of Richard Sitar in Nanaimo, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Man accused in Nanaimo beating death told police he didn’t hurt victim

Arresting officer takes the stand in John Albert Buchanan’s second-degree murder trial

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

Canadian Federation of University Women Nanaimo members Wendy Smiley, left, Karen Skarpnes, storyteller Margaret Murphy, CFUW-Nanaimo president Jeri Manley and club treasurer Kathy Torhjelm gather in recognition of the club’s 75th anniversary. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo chapter of Canadian Federation of University Women celebrates 75th anniversary

Group gathered via Zoom earlier this month to recall its history in the area

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read