Tragedy on New Zealand’s White Island, which erupted today at 2:11 pm NZDT while about 50 tourists were visiting. About half of them were rescued by boats from offshore. The rest are still missing.
Below are webcam pictures taken just before the sudden explosive eruption (source: Independent):
In the top image, a line of people can just be discerned standing on the rim of the active crater. Ten minutes later they have left the rim, and have moved away along a path. There seem to have been 10 – 15 people in the group.
The webcam seems to have been located at the eastern end of the island, facing west.
It looks as if visitors landed on the east end of the island, and walked about a kilometre across what was actually the floor of the crater to the western end, which was still active. Given an average walking speed of 5 km/hr, it would have only taken about 10 minutes to walk this distance.
Since five people are already known to have died, it seems highly unlikely that the group of visitors shown in the webcam will have survived. Unfortunately, they were probably all killed instantly. And will likely never be found.
This seems to be the belief of NZ police:
Just after midnight, officers said in a statement that after reconnaissance flights over the island, “no signs of life had been seen at any point”.
“Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation,” a statement said.
“Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.”
What’s astonishing is the speed at which news of this sort now propagates around the world. There are already several videos showing the eruption, which happened less than 12 hours ago. And there are already several firsthand accounts from the scene. No doubt there will be many more.
We are all reporters now.