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Up to 20 reported injured in New Zealand volcano eruption

Image: Smoke bellows from Whakaari, also known as White Island, volcano as
Smoke bellows from Whakaari, also known as White Island, volcano as it erupts in New Zealand on Monday local time in this image obtained via social media from the national research institute GNS Science. Copyright GNS Science
Copyright GNS Science
By Alex Johnson with NBC News World News
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White Island should be considered dangerous after Whakaari erupted Monday afternoon, the government said.


As many as 20 people were injured and emergency crews were racing to the scene after a volcano erupted on White Island off the coast of New Zealand, authorities told national radio on Monday.

GeoNet, the government earthquake agency, said the country's most active cone volcano, Whakaari White Island, in the Bay of Plenty about 30 miles off the northeast New Zealand coast, erupted at about 2:10 p.m. Monday.

The national Meteorological Service confirmed the eruption and tweeted radar and satellite images of the eruption and its ash cloud. The Civil Defense Ministry said that the area should be considered dangerous and that a news conference was being organized for later in the afternoon.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference that "we believe 100 people were on or around the island," some of whom remained unaccounted for. She said the government couldn't confirm whether there had been any deaths.

Radio New Zealand, the government-chartered public broadcaster, quoted the national ambulance service as saying as many as 20 people may have been injured on the island, which in quieter times is a popular tourist attraction.

It said a mobile triage unit, an ambulance crew and five helicopters units were on the away to the island, according to Radio New Zealand.

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