The Volcano Could Blow Again. A Team Went In Anyway

Six more bodies have been recovered on White Island in NZ after Monday's eruption
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2019 6:05 AM CST
6 More Bodies Recovered on Volcano-Seared Island
This photo from Friday shows an operation to recover bodies from White Island after a volcanic eruption.   (New Zealand Defense Force via AP)

A "risky mission" onto New Zealand's White Island to retrieve the bodies of eight people believed to have been killed during Monday's volcano eruption "went to plan." Six bodies were recovered Friday, with "every effort to locate and recover the two remaining deceased," police say, per NBC News. This brings the confirmed death toll to 14. Although the search, conducted by a team of eight from the country's military and police forces, will continue from the air and water, the New York Times reports the ground search for the other two bodies was halted Friday afternoon because the rescue team was running out of air supplies during the perilous operation. Divers will head out Saturday to see about finding one body that was reportedly seen in the water.

Nearly 50 people were said to have been on the island when the notoriously volatile volcano—which NBC calls "one of the most dangerous in the world" due to its unpredictability—blew, including nine Americans. The recovery mission remains risky due to toxic gases, ash on the ground that could be inhaled, and the possibility of another eruption; scientists have said the chance of that happening is between 40% and 60%. As of Thursday, more than two dozen people who managed to escape the island after the eruption were still in the hospital with serious burns. The Times notes that, as the recovery mission continues, "how such a calamity was allowed to happen is the biggest question": Despite its dangers, the island is a popular tourist attraction, partly because it's been featured in movies like The Lord of the Rings. (More New Zealand stories.)

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