WHITE ISLAND, New Zealand — At least five people are dead after a volcano erupted Monday on New Zealand’s White Island, officials said.
According to New Zealand police, 50 or fewer people, including more than 30 passengers on Royal Caribbean International's Ovation of the Seas cruise ship, were in the area when the volcano erupted just after 2 p.m. local time Monday, CNN reported. Of the 23 people evacuated, five have died, and many of the 18 survivors were being treated for burn wounds, The Associated Press reported.
In a Monday night news conference, New Zealand police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said he was not sure how many people remain on the island but estimated that it was a double-digit number, the AP reported. Rescuers are not yet able to search the island because "the physical environment is unsafe," Tims said.
Royal Caribbean issued a statement saying it is "devastated" by the eruption and offering sympathy to "those affected by this tragedy," CNN reported.
“We are working together with local authorities, and we are providing all the help and care we can to our guests and their families, including offering medical resources and counseling,” the statement read. “We are also sending staff members from both our ship and our Sydney and Auckland offices to assist family members however possible.”
The cruise line added that the "Ovation of the Seas will remain in port as long as needed to assist with the situation," according to CNN.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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