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Volcanic eruption at Whakaari / White Island

Volcanic eruption at Whakaari / White Island

National Emergency Management Agency Update

4:55pm, 15 December 2019

The National Emergency Management Agency is coordinating the all-of-government response to the volcanic eruption at Whakaari / White Island. There are more than 20 government and support agencies providing assistance to the all-of-government response.

Update on the status of the recovery efforts

All response agencies are absolutely committed to the recovery and return of the two remaining bodies to their loved ones.

This morning at 8am, three helicopters- two commercial helicopters and the Police Eagle helicopter – left for Whaakari / White Island with eight Police staff on board.

Those staff covered a search area where our best information suggested a body could still remain.

Unfortunately, we did not locate a body this morning.

We have always anticipated recovering all bodies from the island, and we remain deeply committed to that goal, to allow families some closure.

NZDF resources and personnel, Navy divers and the Police National Dive Squad remain in Whakatane to assist however they are required.

Navy and Police divers are working together and recommenced searching in the area this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the process of identifying victims and releasing bodies to their loved ones is ongoing in Auckland.

Police will continue to release the names of those who have died as soon as they are able to.

Latest updates from NZ Police are available at: https://www.police.govt.nz/major-events/whakaariwhite-island-eruption

Status of those affected by the eruption

There were 47 people on the Island at the time of the eruption.

As at 1530 hours 15 December:

• 14 people remain in hospital across New Zealand.

• 3 people have been discharged.

• 2 people remain unaccounted for on or in the vicinity of White Island.

• 16 people have been confirmed deceased – this includes 15 people who died in New Zealand and one person in Australia.

• 13 people have been transferred from New Zealand to Australia.

All our thoughts are with the families and loved ones affected by Monday’s tragic eruption on Whakaari / White Island. A key focus since the eruption has been on supporting the victims, their families and friends.

Volcanic activity on Whakaari/White Island

GNS Science published an eleventh Volcanic Alert Bulletin today (15 December). The level of volcanic tremor has remained low during Saturday and overnight at Whakaari/White Island. No further eruptions have occurred since Monday 9 December, however the situation remains highly volatile.

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2. The NZ Volcanic Alert Level System reflects the current state of the volcano and does not provide a forecast of future activity.

GNS Science has produced a map (see below) showing GNS staff access zones as at 13 December 2019. More information about these maps is available on the GNS Science website.

Read the latest Volcanic Alert Bulletin (#11)

Answers to frequently asked questions about Whakaari White Island are available on the Geonet website.

Support and help available

The National Emergency Management Agency has developed an all-of-Government factsheet on support and information available to people affected by the emergency.

Download the Factsheet (updated 13 December 2019) (505kb)

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