A volcano eruption on a New Zealand island has killed at least five people and left countless more severely injured, including an American couple who suffered extreme burns while fleeing the unexpected explosion.
Honeymooners Lauren and Matthew Urey were among the passengers of a docked Royal Caribbean cruise ship who decided to explore the popular tourist site White Island when the island's volcano erupted about 2 p.m. Monday, Lauren's mother Barbara Barham told the Washington Post.
The Ureys suffered severe burns as they were evacuated and were rushed to a hospital, but further information on their conditions was not immediately known.
Matthew's mother, who received a voicemail from her son, called Barham with the information she had.
“He said he would try to call as soon as he could, but talking and making phone calls was difficult. His hands were so badly burned it was hard for him to make a phone call," Barham told the Post.
Police were able to rescue 23 people from the island after the eruption. At least five people were killed, but others are missing.
“No signs of life have been seen at any point,” New Zealand police said in a statement, adding that they have taken several aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since the eruption. “Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation. Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island."
Authorities said the island remains “extremely volatile” in the aftermath the eruptions, and experts have warned that more eruptions are possible. Officials asked that those with missing family and friends to either register them with the New Zealand Red Cross or contact police.