About 50 people visiting White Island off the coast of New Zealand were literally in the wrong place at the wrong time when a volcanic eruption happened on Monday. The mountain continues to rumble as some harrowing accounts are emerging in the aftermath of the eruption.

Police believe 47 people were caught in the blast and that 24 were from Australia along with nine from the U.S, five from New Zealand and nine others from Germany, Britain, China and Malaysia. Six people are confirmed dead and 8 others are thought to have perished after being buried in the hot ash. Of the survivors, 30 were hospitalized with 25 in critical condition.

Among the lucky ones were Lillani Hopkins, 22, who was with her father Geoff. They visited the island to celebrate Geoff's 50th birthday and were in a boat offshore when the boat became an instant rescue craft. According to Lillani, the injured people were screaming in pain and some had severe burns on their exposed skin and faces.

She shared her experience with the local media: “I’ve never seen burns like it. It was horrific. The people just kept coming and coming. We had to clean people. People’s tongues were burnt, we had to clear their airways and their eyes. In the last 10 minutes we ran out of fresh water and there was nothing I could do but be with them. So, it was just trying to reassure people that help was on the way, that they were going to be OK… And just keep them alive. A lot of people were just screaming and crying the whole way back. There were 23 people that had their lives in our hands. It was probably the longest two hours of my life.”

Mark Law, a helicopter pilot and tour company boss, rescued 12 people while smoke and ash from the volcano billowed above them.

He said, “I descended down into the crater, down to 200 feet. We could see people very easily from the air. They were lying down or spread-eagled. We were looking for somewhere we could land that would not be a big problem. The dust is very acidic and that’s not good for the engines.”

Law continued, “We landed in the center of the island where we felt it was OK. It was ashing but we could deal with it. We went to assess everyone. We were moving around tending to people who were in real distress. We wanted to reassure them. We found people dead, dying and alive but in various states of consciousness. The burns were horrific. A lot of the people could not talk…. they were covered in ash and dust. We were picking them up and skin was coming off in our hands.”

The long-term effects of the tragedy on the town of Whakatane, known as the gateway to White Island, are unknown. The island is an important tourist draw for some of the town's population of 20,000. It is located about 30 miles offshore of the town and has an almost mystical significance as tourists and locals alike observe the plumes of smoke from the volcano.