Prime Minister statement on White Island eruption

I have had the opportunity to be briefed on the details of the volcanic eruption of Whakaari/White Island, off the coast of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. 

The eruption happened at 2.11pm today. 

It continues to be an evolving situation. 

We know that there were a number of tourists on or around the island at the time, both New Zealanders and visitors from overseas. 

I know there will be a huge amount of concern and anxiety for those who had loved ones on or around the island at the time. I can assure them that Police are doing everything they can.  

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have stood up their systems to assist with any response required for those further afield. 

I will be travelling to the area this evening, alongside Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare. 

Our focus is to ensure that Police and the National Emergency Management Agency have all of the resources they need.  

The National Emergency Management Agency is leading the response, and an active Police Search and Rescue operation is under way.