At least one Malaysian confirmed dead in New Zealand volcano explosion

via Twitter
via Twitter

Malaysian consular officials in New Zealand have confirmed that authorities there have told them one of the country’s nationals was among the dead in a volcanic explosion that hit the popular tourist destination of White Island yesterday.

Taking to their Facebook page, Malaysia’s High Commission in Zealand wrote that they were in contact with authorities regarding any further developments in the disaster, and asked that anyone with information regarding any other potential Malaysians in the area contact authorities immediately.

The High Commission wishes to update on the latest development regarding the White Island volcanic eruption. This…

Posted by High Commission of Malaysia in Wellington, New Zealand on Monday, December 9, 2019

Five were killed in the blast, with another eight missing and feared dead as of today. The eruption jettisoned ash and steam high into the air, covered individuals that were visiting the island. Some 30 individuals were reported to have sustained serious injuries, with many suffering what witnesses described as “horrific” burns to their bodies.

Tourists from Australia, the United States, Great Britain, China, and Malaysia are among the missing.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that aerial views of the island show “no signs of life.”

“To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief in this moment at time and in your sorrow,” she said at a news conference in Whakatane, a town about 50 kilometeres from White Island.

Footage from the time of the incident shows groups of tourists walking away from the rim of the crater just moments before the explosion. Their fate has yet to be determined, as officials say that there were two groups near the explosion. Some were able to evacuate, while others were not.

Other video clips from cameras operated by New Zealand’s geological agency GeoNet show ash from the explosion shooting 3,700 meters into the air. Geologists say there is a 50/50 chance of another explosion happening in the next 24 hours. Steam and mud are still spewing from the volcano.

Eyewitnesses at the scene report survivors running into the ocean, suffering serious burns. As it is currently summer in New Zealand, many of those visiting the island were wearing shorts and t-shirts, exposing considerable amounts of skin to the flying hot ash.

Authorities are now keeping watch over activity on the island, and gauging when it will be safe to return to see to the casualties.

 

Read more Malaysia coverage at Coconuts KL.

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