WELLINGTON, Dec. 9 (CGTN) -- A volcano erupted on New Zealand's White Island on Monday, leaving as many as 20 people hurt. The conditions of the injured remain unclear at this stage, said local medical service authorities.

The eruption began about 2:30 p.m. local time (0130 GMT) on the island, about 50 kilometers from the east coast of North Island, spewing smoke and debris into the air.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the eruption at White Island, saying that around 100 people were around or on the island at this stage and not all of them are accounted for.

"It is very much an evolving situation and of course all our thoughts are with those affected," Ardern told the media shortly after the incident.

An emergency rescue operation is underway.

The White Island volcano is one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes.