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New Zealand divers continue search as death toll rises

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:30s - Published < > Embed
New Zealand divers continue search as death toll rises

New Zealand divers continue search as death toll rises

New Zealand divers searched contaminated waters near the volcanic White Island for two remaining bodies on Saturday, as the death toll from an eruption rose to at least 15 people, the police said.

Lauren Anthony reports.

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New Zealand divers continue search as death toll rises

New Zealand divers searched for two remaining bodies on Saturday (December 14).

Near the site of a volcanic eruption on the uninhabited White Island.

The death toll from Monday's (December 9) disaster has now risen to at least 15.

And more than two dozen people are still hospitalized.

Most with extreme burns injuries.

Waters surrounding the island have been heavily contaminated by the eruption of rocks, lava and chemicals.

New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said emergency services are hoping return to the island on Sunday (December 15).

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW ZEALAND POLICE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MIKE CLEMENT, SAYING: "We're working towards a plan that hopefully has us going back onto the island tomorrow, but that's not finally decided yet.

We've got to make sure the planning process is meticulous for the reasons I have spelt out previously.

But we're out in the sea near the island, near the jetty with the dive squad.

The police dive squad has been out there since early this morning and they've been joined this afternoon by the navy dive squad with the HMNZ Wellington back on scene." The remains of six people were successfully recovered on Friday (December 13).

After a military team in gas masks and hazmat suits landed on White Island.

Pilot Jason Hill also helped to retrieve injured victims after the eruption.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) 31 YEAR-OLD COMMERCIAL PILOT JASON HILL, SAYING: "We were just there to help them and that's all.

We told them we were there to help and we will get them off the island as soon as we possibly could." The White Island volcano is a popular tourist destination for day-trippers.

There has been criticism that tourists were allowed on the island at all, given signs of increasing tremor activity in the days before the eruption.




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