NZ Police To Recover Bodies Despite Danger

12 December 2019 International News

New Zealand police have said they plan to recover bodies from White Island – where a volcanic eruption killed at least eight people – on Friday morning.

The rescue mission will go ahead despite the risk of another eruption, police said.

At least eight people are thought to be on the island following the eruption on Monday. All are presumed dead.Police said they were planning a “high-speed recovery” of the bodies.

Eight others have already been confirmed dead, and 20 are in intensive care after suffering severe burns when the volcano erupted as tourists were visiting.

GeoNet, New Zealand’s geological hazard information site, said on Thursday there was a 50-60% chance of another eruption within the next 24 hours.

The site’s estimates have over the past days shown a steady increase in the risk of a new eruption.But families of the victims are growing increasingly “desperate” for the bodies to be recovered.

“We are now living with a growing sense of desperation to bring home those that we know are there and those we love,” Whakatane Mayor Judy Turner told reporters.

“The frustration of those families most affected is completely understandable.”

In a press conference on Thursday, Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said authorities have agreed a recovery plan even though the risk that the volcano will erupt had not diminished.”Let there be no mistake,” he said.” This is not a zero risk operation.”

He explained police expected the situation on the island to remain unchanged overnight.Eight specialists from the New Zealand Defence Force will in the morning go to the island and they “will make every effort to recover all bodies from the island”.

Surveillance flights have allowed police to only locate six bodies so far, he explained. The location of the other two bodies is unknown and “there will be limited opportunities” to find those.”We will play things by ear, literally, we will make calls as the morning goes by.”

The deputy commissioner said his biggest concern was the unpredictable volcano, followed by the weather, the direction of the wind and the state of the sea.A lot of things have to go right for this to work.”

The fast recovery will also mean there will be less time to collect the evidence needed to ensure the bodies were all properly identified.”It does come with tradeoffs,” Mr Clement said.


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