Rescuers describe horrors of volcano’s silent eruption

World News

December 11, 2019 - 9:53 AM

Steam comes from White Island from the Bay of Plenty coastline Monday in Whakatane, New Zealand. As many as 13 people may have died following a volcanic eruption on the island, while dozens more were injured. GETTY IMAGES/JOHN BOREN/TNS

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) ? The eruption was so silent that Lillani Hopkins didn?t hear it over the hum of the boat?s engines. She didn?t turn around until her dad whacked her.

Then she saw it. Huge clouds of ash and steam shooting into the sky. She was so excited, she grabbed her phone out of her dad?s bag and hit record. But then the plume stopped going up and started rolling out over the cliffs ? and her awe turned to fear.

Just under the surface of the crater, pressure had been building for months. Now the super-heated water, about 150 degrees Celsius, or 300 Fahrenheit, burst out in a powerful spray. The blast also contained ash, rocks and a few boulders the size of exercise balls, but it was likely the scalding water that was most deadly.

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