TREMORS have been recorded at the New Zealand volcano where 47 tourists were overwhelmed following a major eruption, as tall plumes of ash and steam puncture the sky over the Bay of Plenty.
The active stratovolcano on White Island, also known as Whakaari, exploded on Monday, killing five people.
Up to three Australians are believed to have been among the five confirmed to have died, but the total official death toll is expected to rise.
NZ authorities were on Wednesday trying to work out if they could get crews to the island off the east coast of the North Island to recover more bodies of the dead.
But the prospects aren’t good after GeoNet, the NZ agency that gathers volcano data, noted increased activity since 4am local time.
“The level of volcanic tremor has significantly increased at the island,” GeoNet said.
“This has been accompanied by vigorous steaming and localised mud jetting in several of the craters created by the eruption on Monday.
“We interpret these signals as evidence of continued high gas pressures within the volcano.”
Eruptions are “likely” to occur within the next 24 hours.
GeoNet has maintained the volcanic alert warning for the island at ‘3’, which indicates a ‘minor volcanic eruption” is likely.
Among the 47 people on the island during Monday’s eruption, there were 24 Australians, nine Americans, five Kiwis, four Germans, two Britons and Chinese and one Malaysian.
So far a total of six people have died, including one who passed away from their injuries on Tuesday.
Some 33 were hospitalised for burns, including 13 Australians and the rest are unaccounted for.
Stratovolcanoes are tall and conical in shape and are the most dangerous volcanos in the world.
The White Island volcano, a well-known tourist and scientific attraction, has emitting volcanic gas and smoke for decades, if not centuries.
• NZ VOLCANO ERUPTION – THE AUSTRALIAN TOLL SO FAR
* 24 Australians were on a tour of White Island, also known as Whakaari, when an active volcano erupted on Monday, spewing smoke, ash and debris thousands of metres into the air.
* The Australians were on a day trip from the Royal Caribbean cruise liner Ovation of the Seas.
* They are aged between 17 and 72 years.
* At least three of them are now believed to be dead.
* These deaths are still to be officially confirmed.
* The assumed deaths are part of a total of 11 Australians who are still unaccounted for. This means up to 8 Australians are likely still missing.
* The remains of some of the dead are believed to be still on the island.
* The other 13 Australians who were injured have been taken to multiple hospitals across New Zealand.
* Some of the injured could soon be evacuated to Australia.
* From Adelaide: Lisa Dallow, 48, is in a Hamilton hospital with severe burns. But her husband Gavin Dallow, 53, and her daughter Zoe Hosking, 15, are unaccounted for.
* From Brisbane: Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, are missing.
* From Melbourne: Krystal Browitt, 21, is missing.
* From Coffs Harbour, NSW: Karla Mathews, 32, and her partner Richard Elzer, 32, are missing. Their travel companion Jason Griffiths is in hospital with severe burns to 80 per cent of his body.
* From Sydney, Willoughby: the Langford family comprising parents Anthony and Kristine, son Jesse, 19, and daughter Winona, 17, are unaccounted for.
* From Sydney: the Hollander family, including father Martin, 48, wife Barbara and two teenage sons believed aged 13-14 and 16-17 years are missing.
* From Sydney, Engadine: Marion London, 56 and husband Nick are in hospital with severe burns.