New Zealand to Begin Risky Mission to Recover Bodies on White Island

An aerial view of the Whakaari also known as White Island volcano in New Zealand

Rain mixing with the heavy volcanic ash lying on the island could encase the bodies in a cement-like substance, making recovery more hard.

This handout photo taken on December 11, 2019 and released by the Royal Australian Air Force on December 12, 2019 shows a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster in Christchurch prepareing to repatriate the Australians injured during the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand.

The chance of another eruption is 50-60 percent, according to GNS scientists.

More than two dozen people are still being treated for severe burns in New Zealand and Australia.

Recovering the six will be a priority, Clement said.

Victims' families and friends have gathered at the marae and could be seen to be visibly relieved, with many hugging each other.

Clement said earlier the risk of both another eruption and toxic gases were simply too great on Thursday to expose recovery teams, although the situation was being constantly reviewed.

"We are all in exactly the same place and wanting to make sure that as soon as possible, as soon as we can, that recovery operation begins".

Conditions on the island remained favourable.

The recovery team was in the area where authorities believed the majority of the bodies are.

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Conditions for the operation were good in regard to the weather, sea state and the environment on the island. On the scale, 2 signifies unrest while 5 signifies a major eruption.

There were 47 people on the island at the time of the eruption.

The recovery team on a Defence Force helicopter has landed on the island in the Bay of Plenty, police confirmed at 8.25am today.

Eight others have died. "I have to emphasize that the risk has not gone". Some have told RNZ they are desperate for the bodies of those missing on Whakaari, which is 50km off shore, to be recovered today.

The launch of the mission comes as grieving family members demanded that the New Zealand government do more to attempt to retrieve the bodies of missing loved ones. The teams will wear protective gear, but police gave no further details.

Authorities say 24 Australians, nine Americans, five New Zealanders, four Germans, two Britons, two Chinese and a Malaysian were visiting the island at the time of the eruption.

He said a lot had to go right for the plan to work, but he had given a deep commitment to the families he will do everything in his power to return their relatives.

Numerous injured are being treated for severe burns, and medical officials are importing some 1.2 million square cm of skin.

The volcano, a popular tourist destination for day-trips, erupted on Monday, spewing ash and steam over the island.

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