Daily US Times, Wellington: Divers are deployed into the waters of surrounding New Zealand’s White Water island to search for more bodies after a deadly volcanic eruption.
Six bodies recovered so far. The operation is not closed yet as two people remain unaccounted for. The death toll rises 12 so far.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, ‘Unfortunately the recovery option is not over as two people remain unaccounted for. We know at least one body is in the water. Divers are currently attempting to recover this body.’
‘We are making every effort to locate and recover the two remaining deceased. The environment the recovery team faced today was highly unpredictable and challenging. They showed absolute courage and commitment to ensure we can offer some closure to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones’, he added.
White Island is about 30 miles from the mainland is also known as Whakaari. It is home to the country’s most active cone volcano. Despite the fact that the island has had regular eruptions for years, it has become a widely popular tourist destination. The island is accessible only by boat and helicopter.
The volcanic eruption appeared suddenly in Monday afternoon when 47 people including at least nine Americans were there. Most people were immediately rescued via helicopters and taken to hospitals while several remained stranded on the island. New Zealand Police said, there were likely no survivors.
Rescue workers were unable to start rescue operation as the condition of the area have been too dangerous and unpredictable. Because of the eruption, the government was bound to place a 5-mile no-fly zone and 5-nautical-mile maritime exclusion zone around the island.
Authorities are now working to identify the deceased as well as the injured.