Rescuers tell of 'horrific' injuries after White Island eruption

Credit: Brisbane Times- Published on December 10, 2019
Nearly all the wounded had burns covering more than 30 per cent of their body. Recovery operations on the island are being hampered by dangerous conditions.

Credit: TomoNews US
Published on December 10, 2019 -  01:35
White Island volcanic eruption explained
WHITE ISLAND / NEW ZEALANDโ€”The sudden eruption of New Zealand's White Island volcano has left 5 people dead and injured dozens of others, reports CNN. According to the University of Otago, White Island straddles the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Magma is created beneath the island when the Pacific plate pushes against the Australian plate and sinks beneath it. The Guardian reports that White Island magma is shallow and heats groundwater to form pockets of extremely hot steam. This causes high pressure in surrounding rocks. The expansion of water into steam can be supersonic and its energy can shatter the rockbed, resulting in a steam-driven eruption, also known as hydrothermal eruption. The Guardian reports that White Island's steam-driven eruption blasted hot volcanic rocks, ash and coarse particles that can inflict impact trauma, burns and respiratory injuries. Authorities fear as many as 13 people could be dead. CNN reports that five tourists on the island have been killed, while 27 have suffered serious burns and eight are still missing as of Tuesday. The Guardian reports that steam-driven eruptions can happen quickly and without warning because their triggers are not well understood. Volcanologists at GeoNet says the White Island volcano erupted with enough force that its plumes rose to a height of three kilometers.

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