New Zealand volcano eruption: 25 people critical after White Island disaster – live updates

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Recovery teams are still unable to approach White Island to bring back the bodies of eight people missing following the disaster

Paul Quinn, chairman of White Island Tours, has issued a statement this morning. The company operates daily boat trips to the island and last year it ferried 17,500 people to the volcano. Two of its employees are missing after Monday’s disaster and Quinn’s statement said the recovery of loved ones was of “paramount concern”.

First and foremost, we would like to express our sorrow and offer condolences to those who have lost their loved ones following the eruption on Whakaari / White Island on Monday.

At this stage, recovery of loved ones who are still on the island is of paramount concern and all of our resources including vessels, protection equipment and personnel have been made available to NZ Police and Civil Defence to support the recovery mission.

Eleanor Aigne Roy has filed this update from Whakatane about a police drone flight over the island today. She also says that facilities have been put in palce at the local airport to deal with the bodies of victims once they are recovered from the island.

In Whakatāne it is a calm, clear day and for the first time police have successfully launched a reconnaissance drone over White Island, from boats stationed 1km of its coast. No further flights today have been reported after the 8.30am mission.

At the local airport a cordon has been erected as the small hub prepares to process eight bodies. The chief coroner has declared the white island disaster a “major fatality incident”, and after landing in Whakatane, bodies will then be transported to Auckland mortuary for forensic examination and formal identification.

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