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Updates on White Island eruption

An image provided by visitor Michael Schade shows White Island (Whakaari) volcano, as it erupts, in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

A volcanic eruption in New Zealand left at least five people dead and more missing Monday on a volcanic island off the country’s northeast coast.

Police said White Island, also called Whakaari, is still too dangerous for search and rescue crews.

Fewer than 50 people were on the island when it erupted and 23, including the five dead, have been evacuated, said Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims. Tims was unsure of the exact number of people missing but said it was in the double digits.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called eruption “very significant” and traveled to the area Monday. “All our thoughts are with those affected,” she said.

Here’s what we know now:

What happened on White Island?

According to GeoNet, which tracks volcanic activity in New Zealand, the eruption occurred just after 2 p.m. local time.

The eruption was “short-lived” and sent an ash plume soaring about 12,000 feet above the volcano’s vent, according to GeoNet volcanologist Geoff Kilgour.

Kilgour wrote that volcanic activity on the island has since diminished.

“In the scheme of things, for volcanic eruptions, it is not large,” said GeoNet’s Ken Gledhill. “But if you were close to that, it is not good.”

Videos and photos shared on social media show massive plumes of smoke coming off the island.

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