Eight people are still missing after it erupted at 2.11pm yesterday authorites say this morning. There were two explosions one after the other in close succession.
Authorities today confirmed 47 people from two groups went onto island - of those five have been confirmed dead, 31 are being treated in hospitals throughout the country and eight are still missing. Three people have been discharged from hospital overnight.
Multiple nationalities are involved, including people from New Zealand who were part of the tour operation, and tourists from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.
"To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief at this moment in time and in your sorrow. Your loved ones stood alongside Kiwis who were hosting you here and we grieve with you and we grieve with them," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a media conference this morning.
She added she was in contact with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide updates.
"For now, our duty is to return loved ones," she said, adding more work was to be done to make it safe to do so.
Boats already in the area when the eruption occurred leaped into action to rescue and evacuate people on the island.
Multiple air searches by the police Eagle helicopter, rescue helicopter and NZDF aircraft in the hours after the eruption have found "no signs of life," a police spokesperson says.
"Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation," a spokesperson says.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island."
White Island, in Bay of Plenty, is popular with tourists and visitors from cruise ship Ovation of the Seas were among those on the island when the volcano erupted.