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.
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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.