DigitalGlobe via Getty Images satellite image of Whakaari, White Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
DigitalGlobe via Getty Images via Getty Images
  • One of New Zealand's most active volcanoes erupted on Monday afternoon local time, sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky.
  • New Zealand's geological monitoring agency, GeoNet, said the eruption began at around 2:11 p.m. local time on Whakaari, also known as White Island. Activity at the volcano diminished after the short-lived eruption.
  • According to the agency, the volcano sent ash plumes 12,000 feet (3,600 metres) into the air.
  • New Zealand Police said they believe there were fewer than 50 people on the island during the eruption and are conducting a search and rescue mission.
  • At least one person is in critical condition, police added.
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One of New Zealand's most active volcanoes erupted on Monday afternoon local time, sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky.

According to New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency, the eruption occurred at Whakaari, also known as White Island, which is located about 50 kilometers from the east coast of country's North Island. The agency said that as of 3:20 p.m. that the immediate vicinity of the volcano remains hazardous.

According to New Zealand's geological monitoring agency, GeoNet, the eruption began at around 2:11 p.m. local time. Activity at the volcano diminished after the short-lived eruption, the agency said.

GeoNet said the volcano sent ash plumes 12,000 feet (3,600 metres) into the air.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said that about 100 people were believed to have been on the island when the volcano erupted, according to the New Zealand Herald.

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"All our thoughts are with those affected at this stage," Ardern said after a cabinet meeting.

New Zealand Police said they believe there were fewer than 50 people on the island during the eruption and are conducting a search and rescue mission.

Police added that some of the people on the island have been transported to shore, though there are still a number of others who remain unaccounted for.

At least one person is in critical condition, police said.

A no-fly zone has been established above the island.

According to GNS Science, New Zealand's geoscience agency, White Island has been New Zealand's most continuously active volcano for the last 40 years.

This is a developing story. Check back soon for more updates.

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