- Title: New Zealand military team lands on volcano for risky recovery mission
- Date: 12th December 2019
- Summary: WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND (DECEMBER 13, 2019) (REUTERS) BOAT COMING INTO PORT AT WHAKATANE PEOPLE GATHERED, INCLUDING RELATIVES OF VICTIMS AT PORT MAN AND WOMAN EMBRACING, KISSING PEOPLE GATHERED, MEDIA GATHERED OUTSIDE FENCING PEOPLE HUGGING PEOPLE GATHERED PEOPLE HUGGING SIGN ON BOAT READING (English) ''WHITE ISLAND TOURS'' SIGN READING (English) ''EXPLORE AN ACTIVE VOLCANO'' PEOPLE GATHERED AT PORT DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, PAUL CLEMENT HUGGING A PERSON AT DOCK (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, PAUL CLEMENT, SAYING: ''The plan is, I had anticipated last evening is underway, we have operators on the island. As I said last night there are many things that could go wrong with the plan given that we don't control all of the circumstances but for the time being our plan is playing out as we had hoped. We have operators on the ground and now for the next few hours they will be undertaking the task of recovering the bodies.'' SEA (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, PAUL CLEMENT, SAYING: ''They've had to move away from the island because we've started the recovery and they need to focus on their job.'' REPORTER ASKING: ''Why's it taking a couple of hours mate?'' (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, PAUL CLEMENT, SAYING: ''Ah well because as I indicated last evening the equipment the operators were wearing on the island was significant in terms of weight and how it restricts movement because they had to be protected from the environmental factors that are there on the island. And we had to be prepared for the fact there might be an eruption.'' SEA
- Embargoed: 26th December 2019 20:42
- Keywords: New Zealand Whakatane White Island relatives volcano
- Location: WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND
- City: WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND
- Country: New Zealand
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents
- Reuters ID: LVA001B9O9U13
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART QUALITY AS INCOMING
New Zealand's military forces began a high-risk operation on volcanic White Island on Friday (December 13) to recover bodies of eight people killed in an eruption this week, despite warnings that the island was still highly volatile.
Authorities have faced growing pressure from families of victims and the wider local community to recover the bodies as soon as possible. NZ police had previously refused to go in due to safety risks.
New Zealand defence force personnel are being deployed in the mission on Friday, along with assistance from the police and other agencies in the recovery mission that could take a few hours, police said.
The mission was to be launched from a navy ship off the island. The teams will wear protective gear, but the police gave no further details.
Six bodies could be seen and there would be "very limited" opportunity to search for the other two, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said on Thursday.
The risks are still high - the volcano on White Island was "highly volatile" and could erupt again within days, experts have warned.
New Zealand's geological science agency GNS Science on Thursday put the risk of a further eruption over the next 24 hours at 50% to 60%.
Eight people have been officially declared dead, while more than 20 are still being treated for severe burns.
There were 47 people on the island, also known by its Maori name Whakaari, at the time of the eruption.
(Production: Yiming Woo, James Redmayne, Aiden Nulty)
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