Remote New Zealand island evacuated as volcano erupts

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Friday, March 17, 2006

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) began 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). Six DOC workers were living on Raoul Island when it erupted.

Rolien Elliot, DOC Area Manager for Warkworth, said, “A helicopter has been sent to pick up the DOC staff that are based on the island, five of whom have been accounted for. One staff member is missing after going on a routine mission to check the water temperature of the lake .... We are monitoring the situation closely, with the safety of the staff being our top priority."

DOC staff on the island have been communicating with New Zealand using a satellite phone.

The last eruption occurred in 1964 (see photo), when workers had to be evacuated because of the possibility of continuing activity.

It takes two days' sailing for a Navy frigate to reach Raoul Island from Auckland.