Britons feared missing after volcano erupts in New Zealand

British nationals are feared to be among those missing after a volcanic island in New Zealand erupted, killing at least five people and injuring more than a dozen others.

A missing persons list which aims to reunite concerned family members with their loved ones shows up to five people with a UK birthplace still unaccounted for.

White Island erupted with a large plume of ash and steam on Monday while dozens of tourists were exploring New Zealand's most active volcano.

Aerial footage showed "no signs of life" on the island following the eruption, according to New Zealand police, who said they do not expect to find any more survivors.

Deputy commissioner John Tims said New Zealanders and overseas tourists were among the dead, missing or injured.

A spokesman for the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said they are seeking further information.

He said: "We are in close contact with the New Zealand authorities following the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island and are seeking further information."

Mr Tims said the number of those missing remained in double figures but he could not confirm an exact amount, adding that there were fewer than 50 people on the island at the time and 23 had been taken off, including the five dead.

He said most of the 18 who survived were injured, including some who were severely burned.

Rescue teams were unable to access the island on foot due to unstable conditions hours after the eruption, which occurred shortly after 2pm local time on Monday.

Mr Tims said there had been no contact with any of those who were unaccounted for.

The New Zealand Red Cross activated the missing list to allow people to self-register as safe and well, or to register details of a person they have lost contact with.

Information on the list is submitted by members of public.

Angela Sutherland, general manager of disaster risk management at the New Zealand Red Cross, urged anyone worried about friends or family to "first contact them as you normally would".

"Using your own channels can help to speed up the process and helps response agencies as well," she said.

"If you cannot make contact, please register them through our Family Links website."

White Island is in the Bay of Plenty, near the town of Tauranga on North Island.

The active volcano is a tourist hotspot but has erupted several times before, most recently in 2016 and during the 2012/13 period.

NZEALAND Volcano
(PA Graphics)

Footage posted on social media by tourists in nearby boats showed thick smoke billowing up to 12,000ft in the air as people could be spotted along the shore of the island.

Some of those involved were guests from the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.

A Royal Caribbean spokesman said: "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 counselling.

"We are also sending staff members from both our ship and our Sydney and Auckland offices to assist family members however possible.

"Ovation of the Seas will remain in port as as long as needed to assist with the situation."

The vessel was due to sail to the capital Wellington on Monday night but the company said it would remain in the Tauranga port overnight until it learned more about the situation.

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