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The unexpected eruption began erupting at around 2.15pm local time around 48km from the Bay of Plenty region. Around 20 people were reportedly on or near the island at the time of the eruption. Included with the victims was a White Island Tours boat, according to St John healthcare services.

Some people nearby reportedly have critical injuries, according to New Zealand Herald.

One rescue helicopter is on its way to the scene while others are waiting nearby.

According to images, thick, white plumes of smoke are filling the sky around the picturesque island.

Currently, the Volcanic Alert Level is at a four.

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This is the second highest warning level and should be viewed as a “moderate eruption”.

Under the level four coding, there is a “possibility of a very large eruption” as well as a chance of a flank eruption.

A flank eruption is when simultaneous explosions take place around the volcano as well as at its summit.

A police spokesman has said there is no further information at this stage.

It comes as the nation was struck with more bad luck when around 1,000 tourists were left stranded at a popular resort in New Zealand after a horrific landslide.

However, the authorities in New Zealand have warned the tourists they may not be rescued until Friday.

The mudslides happened near the Franz and Fox glaciers, which, Sky News reports, is on the country’s south island.

According to The Guardian, the country’s Met Service said central and western areas in the North Island would likely be struck by severe thunderstorms.

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