Wellington, Dec 13 (IANS) A search operation to retrieve the last two bodies remaining on the Whakaari/White Island are expected to continue on Saturday, after six bodies were recovered from the volcano on Friday.
The operation began early Friday motning, almost four days after the eruption which claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 30, most still in critical condition, reports The New Zealand Herald.
Eight Defence Force members wearing full protective clothing, including closed-circuit breathing apparatus to guard against the toxic gases, landed on White Island, where they retrieved six of the eight bodies left behind after Monday’s deadly eruption.
A total of 17 people remain hospitalized in the burn units of New Zealand hospitals, 13 of them in critical condition, after Australian authorities repatriated 11 of their injured citizens, Efe news reported.
Many of the injured suffered burns over more than 80 per cent of their bodies and internal abrasions due to inhaling hot volcanic gases, a situation that obligated New Zealand to import skin and tissue grafts to treat them.
Whakaari suddenly entered an eruptive phase on Monday afternoon when 47 people – including Australians, Britons, Germans, New Zealanders, Americans, Malaysians and Chinese – were visiting the privately-owned island located 40 km east of New Zealand’s North Island.