There are fears for the safety of a group of hikers who were photographed walking near the edge of a crater just before a deadly volcanic eruption on New Zealand’s White Island.
Live-posting cameras set up by New Zealand’s geological hazard service captured the group’s progress as they followed a path through a barren volcanic landscape towards white smoke billowing from the crater.
Photographs posted by the camera every 10 minutes show several groups of hikers moving about the crater, and the volcanic valley surrounding it.
However, only one group is still in view by the time of the eruption.
At 2:00pm they were shown standing on the crater’s edge against white smoke.
The following frame, taken at 2:10pm, shows the group appearing to walk away from the crater.
The eruption, recorded by the GeoNet service just one minute later, knocked the camera out of action.
Island received thousands of visitors per year
In the wake of the eruption emergency services were dispatched to the island on a rescue mission.
More than 20 people, many of them suffering from burns, have been rescued, with many of them taken from the island in small boats.
GeoNet describes White Island, also known as Whakaari, as New Zealand’s most active cone volcano.
The Bay of Plenty island is a popular tourist destination, with several holiday providers advertising guided tours of the inner crater.
Tourist Michael Schade posted footage of the eruption to Twitter, saying he and his family had been at the crater shortly before the eruption.
“We were waiting at our boat to leave when we saw it.”
More pictures are emerging from the scene: