Tremor activity at New Zealand volcano impedes recovery effort

The smouldering New Zealand volcano that killed at least six people is still too unsafe for emergency teams to recover bodies from, police said Wednesday, warning that many tourists who escaped the island were so badly burned they were not yet out of danger.

The volcano on White Island erupted at 2:11 p.m. on Monday.

Watson said the nature of the burns is complicated by the gases and chemicals from the volcanic eruption, requiring more rapid surgical treatment than would be the case for thermal-only burns.

Oliver Peterson got the latest from Nine News reporter Lizzie Pearl.

Yesterday, the police said there were 47 people on the island, which is a tourist hotspot, at the time of the eruption.

Gavin Dallow, 53, his partner Lisa Hosking, 48 and daughter Zoe Hosking were on a two-week Royal Caribbean cruise around New Zealand which left last Wednesday, the Adelaide Advertiser reported.

Seismologists have predicted there is a 50% chance of another eruption on the island, which sits semi-submerged 50 kilometres out to sea.

A group of Australian friends say they are devastated after losing three members from their group who were on New Zealand's White Island when it erupted.

The deaths of the two came after authorities said they had confirmed that six people died and and that the bodies of eight other people are believed to remain on the ash covered island. Everyone wants certainty in life, but when it comes to things like volcanoes, the inherent rule is: "We don't know".

Is the cruise company liable for injuries to passengers from the Ovation of the Seas who were touring the island at the time?

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It is understood White Island tour operators potentially fines of NZ$1.5 million if found liable under health and safety laws but it will be a long time before any prosecutions begin, if they do go ahead. Numerous injured suffered severe burns, were in critical condition and were being treated at hospital burn units around New Zealand.

"We don't know anything at all, but I'm hoping someone knows anything, someone knows my brother, his kids, and they can notify the media and they can notify us", Langford said.

An update from the New Zealand police posted on their official Facebook today stated that there are now 30 patients in six hospitals around New Zealand - Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Auckland City, Tauranga, Waikato and Christchurch.

A total of 30 people are now receiving treatment in hospitals across New Zealand. "And the parameters are worsening at the moment", Graham Leonard, a senior volcanologist at GNS Science, told a news conference in Wellington.

The eruption at White Island - also known as Whakaari - occurred on Monday afternoon, spewing a thick plume of white ash 3.6 kilometres into the sky.

It brings the number of Australians confirmed dead in the disaster to seven.

The first confirmed death was of a local man, Hayden Marshall-Inman, a guide who had shown tourists around the island.

Mr Morrison said RAAF aircraft will transfer up to 10 of the injured patients to Australia by Thursday.

GNS has reduced the volcanic alert status to level 2 but says the likelihood of another eruption in the next 24 hours remains.

  • Sonia Alvarado