Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says he heart goes out to those impacted by the eruption on White Island – a place she says she has walked before.

"Like countless thousands of people, I have been to White Island and walked to the crater rim, so I can visualise the horror of what happened," she told the Herald.

She added that the eruption was a horrific tragedy which caused death, very severe injury, and "indescribable suffering".

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"My heart goes out to all the victims and their families."

Officials have confirmed that five people have died and eight are missing.

Speaking to media before going into the House this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had spoken to one of the helicopter pilots who was on the island in the immediate aftermath.

"He confirmed that, tragically, everyone who was alive and survived was taken off the island."

She said she was told by those evacuating the survivors that there was "no one left to rescue".

Speaking in the House this afternoon, National Deputy Leader Paula Bennett said that she too had visited White Island and had made the trip when she was Tourism Minister in 2017.

"Walking on it [the Island], it is quite incredible: the power and the beauty of it.

"Our earth has opened up and exploded and taken some lives in with it.


"For those that are not from New Zealand, understanding that our land has taken them; our land now looks after them and will always show that kind of respect."

She thanked the Government for the work that it is doing, and recognised the work people involved with the rescue and recovering were doing.

Officials have today confirmed that there had been 47 people in total on the island at the time of the eruption, with 38 of them from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.

Many of the victims are tourists from Australia, the UK, China, Malaysia and the US.

Ardern said that thirty-four injured people and five bodies were taken off the island by heroic rescuers in the face of extreme danger.

Police say there are no further signs of life on the island, following flyovers late on Monday,