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At least one Chinese national among those injured in New Zealand volcanic eruption

2019-12-28 Xinhua

WELLINGTON, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Two Chinese nationals were among those 47 people on New Zealand's White Island at the time of a volcanic eruption on Monday, the New Zealand police said on Tuesday.

At least one Chinese national was also among those injured in New Zealand volcanic eruption, according to the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, which is still awaiting further information about the Chinese tourists injured in the volcanic eruption.

The Chinese national was injured due to the eruption and has been sent to hospital for treatment, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Chinese embassy has sent consular officials to the hospital to visit the injured Chinese national, and asked the New Zealand side to provide the embassy with information about another Chinese national as soon as possible.

The 47 people, most of them tourists, included two people from Britain, four from Germany, 24 from Australia, five from New Zealand, two from China, one from Malaysia and nine from the United States.

Five people had been confirmed dead so far, and eight others were still missing, presumed dead, in the volcanic eruption on White Island in the Eastern Bay of Plenty of the North Island on Monday, with more casualties likely, according to the police.

Thirty-one people were in seven hospitals and three had been discharged so far, the police said.

The five victims were among those rescued earlier, the police said. One of the five victims was a New Zealand tourist guide. The nationalities of the other four victims have yet to be confirmed.

An official from the Chinese embassy in New Zealand told Xinhua that an emergency response team had been activated. The embassy was working with local police to check if there were any Chinese nationals among the dead.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said "no signs of life have been seen at any point" after helicopters and aircraft undertook a number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since the eruption.

"It is now clear that there were two groups on the island -- those who were able to be evacuated and those who were close to the eruption," Ardern said in a statement.

Shane Cronin, a professor of Earth Sciences at University of Auckland with research interests in volcano-tectonic interactions and instability, told local media that the White Island is one of several volcanoes in New Zealand that can produce sudden explosive eruptions at any time.

"In this case, magma is shallow, and the heat and gases affect surface and ground water to form vigorous hydrothermal systems," Cronin wrote.

The White Island is a famous tourist attraction in New Zealand. People can explore the volcanic island by boat or by helicopter. If safety conditions permit, visitors can even enter the main crater.

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