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Live: Whakaari / White Island eruption - day 5

Live: Whakaari / White Island eruption - day 5

A high-risk mission to recover the bodies left behind after Monday's deadly eruption on Whakaari/ White Island is under way.

The recovery team landed shortly after 8am and is in the area where they believe the majority of the bodies are, police said.

The operation is taking more time than expected, due to the protective equipment the recovery team is wearing, which can be restrictive and heavy but is necessary.

Conditions for the operation are good in regard to the weather, sea state and the environment on the island.

Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said the volcano is quiet, which is the critical thing, and there is just a light wind.

Earlier this morning, Police National Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims said a blessing was held at sea.

He said family representatives were returning to the mainland.

A team of eight Defence Force personnel are trying to retrieve the victims as quickly as possible.

The chance of another eruption is 50-60 percent, according to GNS scientists.

Eight bodies are believed to be on the volcano, but Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said only six have been sighted from the air.

He is not sure if the specialist team, who will be wearing protective clothing and gas masks, will have enough time to find the other two.

The remains will be helicoptered onto the navy HMNS Wellington waiting in waters close by.

Clement said he was proud of the incredibly skilled people putting themselves at risk today and it will be up to them to call off the operation if at any time they decide it has become too dangerous.

He said a lot had to go right for the plan to work, but he had given a deep commitment to the families he will do everything in his power to return their relatives.

Follow RNZ's live updates here


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