New Zealand volcano: Death roll rises to eight

Flowers have been left for the victims

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Two more people have died in hospital after a volcanic eruption on New Zealand's White Island, bringing the official death toll to eight.

Two British women are believed to be among about 30 people taken to hospital suffering burns following the incident on Monday, with all but five in a stable but serious condition.

Nine people have been confirmed as missing, according to authorities.

New Zealand officials are planning to recover the bodies of eight victims of the volcanic eruption on Friday.

Police said in a press conference on Thursday the site was expected to be stable enough to allow the planned retrieval operation to proceed, although New Zealand's seismic monitoring agency said a further eruption remained a possibility.

Prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, said: "Everyone is desperate to get those victims back and so I know that will be a matter that the police are utterly focused on."

A total of 47 people were on White Island - a popular tourist spot - when the eruption occurred.

Dozens of people were severely burnt in the eruption, with volcanologists speculating many may have been hit by fierce jets of scalding steam bursting laterally from the volcano.

Continuing volcanic activity has prevented rescue services going to the island.

White Island is the tip of a mostly under-sea volcano 30 miles off New Zealand's North Island.

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