New Zealand Department of Conservation leaves Raoul Island, minus one

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Friday, March 17, 2006

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) made an emergency evacuation of staff from Raoul Island, the largest and northernmost of the Kermadec Islands, due to a volcanic eruption that occurred this morning at 8:21am (New Zealand Daylight Time).

A helicopter picked up the five available staff, but one missing staff member could not be found before it had to leave. The return journey is 2000km (1300 miles).

The missing man, aged in his 30s, failed to return "after going on a routine mission to check the water temperature of the lake," according to Rolien Elliot, DOC Area Manager for Warkworth.

She said that when two of the others went to look for their colleague where he was thought to be, they “had to retreat due to further volcanic activity and the track being impassable with fallen trees and ash.”

The blast had significantly changed the island's landscape.

"There's been about five hectares of native bush cleared and a lot of mud and evidence of boulders and rocks that have been thrown out of the crater itself," the helicopter pilot John Funnell said to One News.

Related Wikinews

"Remote New Zealand island evacuated as volcano erupts" — Wikinews, March 17, 2006