White Island volcano: NZ police plan to recover bodies on Friday

  • December 12, 2019

The volcano erupted on Monday when dozens of tourists were on the island. (Photo: Getty Images)

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 morning. All are presumed dead.

Police said they were considering 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 were growing increasingly “desperate” for the bodies to be recovered, police said.

How would a recovery work?

In a news conference earlier on Thursday, Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said police were considering several options for the risky operation.

A normal recovery operation would see police spending enough time at the scene to collect the evidence needed to ensure the bodies were all properly identified.

A fast mission would mean recovering the remains quicker but with a “trade-off”, he said.

“If you are the next of kin and we don’t get an identification as a consequence of taking that process, they are not going to be happy and I would understand that,” Mr Clement said.

There are also concerns that the air on the island is dangerous to breathe. Authorities are trying to measure toxic gas levels with the help of drones sent over the island.

It’s not clear if the recovery planned for Friday will be a normal or a fast mission. (BBC)