New Zealand recovery teams return to volcanic island, two remain missing

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New Zealand recovery teams returned to the volcanic White Island today but were unable to locate two remaining bodies in their search, the police said.

Authorities said eight police search and rescue staff were deployed for 75 minutes to an area in which their information suggested one body may remain.

“I can say we have found no further bodies in that area," Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said at a press conference today.

Police said they remained committed to recovering the two bodies and that police and military divers were continuing to scour the waters around the island.

“Everyone went out there absolutely desperate to find bodies and return them to loved ones," Clement said.

Yesterday, divers faced contaminated waters and low visibility as they searched the sea surrounding the volcanic island.

On Friday, six bodies were successfully retrieved from the island by a New Zealand military team and taken to the mainland for disaster victim identification.

The volcano, a popular destination for day-trippers, erupted on Monday, spewing ash, steam and gases over the island. Among the 47 people on the island at the time were Australian, US, German, Chinese, British and Malaysian tourists.

The death toll rose to 15 yesterday as one more person died in the hospital. The toll may rise further as more than two dozen people are still hospitalised across New Zealand and Australia, most with severe burn injuries.

Police yesterday began formally releasing the names and nationalities of those killed, with 21-year-old Australian Krystal Browitt the first person identified.

Today, police also released the names of New Zealand's Tipene Maangi and Australians Zoe Hosking, Gavin Dallow and Anthony Langford.

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.

A minute's silence will be observed in New Zealand tomorrow at 2.11pm local time, exactly one week from when the fatal eruption occurred.

\- Reuters