Tragedy on Whakaari


New Zealand’s volcanic White Island, also called Whakaari, erupted on Monday. Whakaari is New Zealand’s most active volcano and a popular tourist attraction.  More than 10,000 people visit the volcano every year.

When the volcano erupted, there were two tour groups on the island, a total of 47 people. Some of the people were New Zealanders, and others were tourists from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, and Malaysia. One group was inside the crater and there are only a few survivors from that group. Another group was close to the shore, and many of them were rescued by boats and helicopters. Six people have died and eight are missing, presumed dead. 33 have been rescued from the island.

The Buttle family have owned the island since 1936, and they have asked that people stop coming to the island.  The island is still erupting now, but there is no danger to people who live in the nearby town, Whakatane.



active: If a volcano is active, there is heat under the ground and some danger that it will erupt.

erupt: When the ground breaks because of pressure from a volcano, this is an eruption. Eruption is the noun, erupt is the verb.

tourist: a person who travels on holiday

tourist attraction: a place where tourists go for fun

tour: When a local person shows tourists a place, this is called a tour.

crater: the land inside a volcano, a hole.

shore: the beach or coast

presume: when we know something but we can’t be 100% sure, we presume something.

survivor: someone who was in danger but did not die