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Terrifying videos capture the moment New Zealand’s Whakaari volcano erupted

Five people have been confirmed dead in a volcanic eruption that shook New Zealand’s White Island on Monday afternoon.

The active volcano, which is also known Whakaari, is situated off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, and is accessible to tourists via guide boat. Both overseas visitors and locals are believed to have been caught up in the explosion.

Police are still working to determine exactly how many people were affected, and how many remain on the island. At the time of writing, authorities have said fewer than 50 people are believed to have been on or near it at the time the eruption took place.

Footage and images of the eruption, some of which were taken by tourists who had only just left the volcano, have been widely shared on Twitter.

U.S. visitor Michael Shade wrote that he’d left the island “20 minutes before” the eruption took place. He posted footage from a boat that shows a thick curtain of grey-black smoke concealing the volcano.

Another video posted by Schade shows people queuing to board a boat in order to leave the island, while smoke from the eruption rises in the background.

“Those are some of the poeple put [sic] boat picked up,” he wrote. “Praying for them and their recovery. Woman my mom tended to was in critical condition but seemed strong by the end.”

Schade then shared another video of a helicopter on the island, which appears to have damaged blades.

Schade shared footage of his own tour group, standing at the edge of the crater “not 30 minutes before” the eruption.

He went on to post photos taken from their boat, including White Island tour operators travelling to the island to rescue people.

“I know there will be a huge amount of concern and anxiety for those who have loved ones at the island at that time — and I can assure them police are doing everything they can,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement, per the BBC. 

Updates are being issued through the official New Zealand police force‘s Twitter account, and anyone unable to contact loved ones can register them as missing through the Family Links website.