UPDATE | Six bodies retrieved in New Zealand volcano recovery mission

UPDATE @ 8.30AM | New Zealand police have confirmed that six bodies have been retrieved from White Island, following Monday’s volcano eruption.

Authorities worked very closely with the first responders, and used drones to confirm the location of the six bodies ahead of the recovery mission.

The mission had been delayed several days due to the dangerous conditions on the island, which could have seen a second eruption.

Gases on the island could have also been fatal for military specialists, who had to wear protective clothing and special breathing equipment during the operation.

During the retrieval process, it’s understood a support ship was stationed just off shore of the island, with scientists on board constantly monitoring the volcanic activity.

There are reportedly still two other bodies on the island.

EARLIER @6.00AM | Authorities have begun a recovery mission to White Island, to retrieve the bodies of those killed in Monday’s volcano eruption.

It’s understood eight bodies are still on the island, with police conducting a high-risk operation to get them home.

Recovery teams have worked closely with helicopter pilots who were the first responders on Monday afternoon, and sent drones to the island to gather information.

They believe they know the location of six of the bodies, and may not have time to find/retrieve the other two, due to extremely dangerous gases.

Two helicopters from the New Zealand Defence Force left from the nearby town of Whakatane to reach the island at dawn.

Police say there are eight military specialists in protective clothing and breathing gear on board the helicopters.

It’s understood it will still take another couple of hours to retrieve the bodies.

The latest statement from New Zealand police reads:

“The operation to recover the bodies from Whakaari / White Island is progressing and the team is well advanced with the recovery of the bodies.

“We expect the recovery operation to continue for another couple of hours.

“Conditions on the island remain favourable,” the statement reads.

A support ship is stationed near the island, with scientists monitoring volcanic activity in real time on board.

Ten Aussies missing, presumed dead in NZ

At least 10 Australians are missing, presumed dead after the New Zealand volcano explosion, with the prime minister warning there will be more bad news in the days ahead.

Some of the 24 Australians who were on White Island when Monday’s explosion occurred have been confirmed dead by family and friends.

On Thursday, Scott Morrison said, “Sadly, there are 10 further Australians who are missing and presumed deceased.”

He said five injured Australians had already been flown home and seven more would follow over the next 24 hours, leaving just one Australian in a New Zealand hospital.

Mr Morrison also revealed four permanent residents of Australia had been caught up in the disaster: two who died in hospital, one missing and presumed dead, and one other who is being treated in hospital.

The volcano remains volatile amid fears another large explosion is imminent. That means it’s simply too dangerous to attempt recovering bodies.

“We know that with quite a number of persons still on the island, understood to be deceased, that we will just have to be patient while circumstances are continually reviewed,” Mr Morrison said.

“DFAT and our offices there are doing everything within their power to provide as much information as they can.

“In the days ahead, there may be the opportunity for that recovery operation to be in place and when that occurs, there will be the very grim task of identification.”

Mr Morrison said the injured Australians faced a very tough road ahead and in many cases faced “difficult rehabilitations as a result of their injuries”.

Tributes are flowing for the latest Australian victims to be identified – Matthew Hollander, 13, and Berend Hollander, 16 – who were students at Knox Grammar School in Sydney.

The brothers died in hospital. Their parents Martin and Barbara remain unaccounted for.

The other Australians confirmed dead are Adelaide man Gavin Dallow, 53; Brisbane woman Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20; Coffs Harbour couple Karla Matthews, 32, and Richard Elzer, 32, and friend Jason Griffiths.

Those presumed dead or listed as still missing include the Hollander parents; Sydney family Anthony and Kristine Langford, son Jesse, 19, and daughter Winona, 17; Adelaide schoolgirl Zoe Hosking, 15, the stepdaughter of Mr Dallow; and Melbourne woman Krystal Browitt, 21.

© AAP 2019

Apocalyptic scenes as hundreds of birds drop dead

A massive investigation is underway after hundreds of birds were found dead on a road in North Wales.

More than 300 starlings were found lifeless with blood over their bodies on a road in Anglesey on Tuesday, in what’s being described as a mystery.

Local Dafydd Edwards and his partner Hannah Stevens made the grim discovery and posted vision of the tragic scenes to the North Wales Bird and Wildlife Sightings group on Facebook.

“225 counted on road with a further 100 plus in the verge and hedges,” he wrote.

“Will get test results info once available, but my theory is could it be poisoned?”

His partner said it was as if “they had dropped down dead from the sky”.

It’s not yet known what caused the mass killing, however tests are currently being conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency to get to the bottom of the tragic incident.

Welsh police said in a video posted to Twitter that they’re “keeping an open mind as to the cause of death.”

“Many of you will have seen on social media a video going round of an incident on Anglesey where numerous starling have been killed. We don’t know how it’s happened,” PC Dewi Evans said.

“We’re just outside Bodedern here by Llyn Llywenan and as you can see on the road here there’s approx 225 dead starling on the road itself and many others on the hedge along the side of the road but no starling apparent in the fields either side which is very strange.”


WATCH: Heart-stopping moment man saves dog after leash gets caught in lift

Heart-stopping vision has emerged, showing the moment a stranger saved the life of a dog whose lead got caught in an elevator.

In the footage, posted to Twitter, Texas man Johnny Mathis can be seen getting out of the lift of his Houston apartment complex.

A woman, who appears to be going for a walk with her Pomeranian, then enters the lift before the doors quickly close behind her, leaving her precious pooch on the other side of the elevator with the lead jammed between the doors.

The quick-thinking resident noticed what happened and rushed to the dog’s aid, miraculously managing to remove the dog’s collar before it’s strangled by the lead.

“Y’all I’m shaking!!! I just saved a dog on a leash that didn’t make it onto the elevator with the owner before the door closed!” Mr Mathis Tweeted.

“I just happened to turn around as the door closed and it started to lift off the ground I got the leash off in time.”

The video has since gone viral with more than 9.5 million views.


Greta Thunberg

Thunberg named Time’s Person of the Year

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Thunberg, who turns 17 in January and who is known for her blunt, straightforward speaking manner, has urged immediate action to address what she describes as the global climate crisis.

Thunberg was lauded by Time for starting an environmental campaign in August 2018 which became a global movement, initially skipping school and camping out in front of the Swedish parliament to demand action.

“In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the president of the United States and inspired four million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history,” the magazine said.

“Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year,” Time said.

Thunberg continues to beat the drum, saying in Madrid on Wednesday that business and political leaders are misleading the public by holding negotiations that are not leading to real action against warming temperatures.

© RAW 2019