New Zealand White Island recovery operation continues, 2 missing

Wellington: The operation to locate and recover the two deceased who remain missing following the White Island eruption continues on Saturday, said New Zealand Police.

It is understood that both police dive squad and navy divers’ team resumed their search Saturday morning for a body seen in the water near the island on Tuesday.

Six bodies were successfully recovered from the volcano island on Friday’s operation led by the New Zealand Police and carried out by New Zealand Defence Force, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Today’s planning will allow us to return to the island to conduct further land-based searches for the remaining deceased, as the environment on and around the island allows,” said the police in a media release Saturday morning.

GNS Science said the chance of eruption on Friday was between 50 and 60 per cent and recovery crews were told there was a 6 per cent chance it could erupt at any three-hour period during their mission.

On Saturday, the risk had since been downgraded with tremors slowing down. GNS volcanologist Brad Scott told local media the tremors “declined significantly overnight”.

The six bodies recovered from the island were sent to Auckland for post-mortem identification.

Altogether 47 people were on the White Island at the time of the eruption on Monday. The eruption has already caused 14 dead and multiple injuries. 15 victims remained in New Zealand hospital, 11 of which were in a “very critical condition with extensive severe burns”, according to Counties-Manukau Health chief medical officer Peter Watson.

Thirteen Australians had now been transferred back to Australia to receive care.

Two Chinese nationals were among those injured, according to the Chinese embassy in New Zealand.

The White Island, a volcanic island, is a famous tourist attraction which people can explore by boat or by helicopter. If safety conditions permit, visitors can even enter the main volcano crater.