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Raoul Search And Rescue Mission To Be Assessed

17 March 2006

Raoul Search And Rescue Mission To Be Assessed

The National Rescue and Coordination Centre (NRCC) evacuation flight has reached Raoul Island and will endeavour to search by air for the missing person if conditions allow.

DOC Warkworth Area Manager Rolien Elliot said the department was liaising with the NRCC about the possibility of a follow-up search and rescue mission.

“A police officer in the evacuation team will assess the feasibility of a search and rescue attempt in the eruption area in the event the missing staff member is not located, and will report back to the National Rescue and Coordination Centre.”

“Two staff members on the island attempted to search the area where the missing person was thought to be but had to retreat due to further volcanic activity and the track being impassable with fallen trees and ash.”

The Department of Conservation staff working on Raoul are to be evacuated after a volcanic eruption on the island this morning.

The evacuation helicopter is expected to return to New Zealand with the DOC staff early tomorrow morning after refuelling.

Staff on the island reported a moderate earthquake at 8.20am this morning, estimated at 3-4 on the Richter scale, followed by an eruption at 8.30am in the area of the Green Lake. The eruption lasted about 40 seconds and threw out a steam and ash plume.

Clusters of small earthquakes had occurred on Raoul from Sunday to Tuesday earlier this week but seismic activity declined after this. The earthquakes were centred 12-15 km off Raoul and were related to movement of the tectonic plates. There were no warning signs of increased volcanic activity on Raoul itself.

ENDS

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