Australia & Pacifics

Questions on White Island eruption remain to be answered: New Zealand PM

WELLINGTON, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Questions need to be asked and answered with regard to the casualties caused by the White Island volcanic eruption, said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday.

"There remain now questions to be asked and questions to be answered," Ardern reiterated during her weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, "What I want to make sure is we answer all the questions we need to answer, but that we don't duplicate."

Death toll reaches 16, two bodies still missing: New Zealand police

WELLINGTON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A 16th person has been confirmed dead in an Australian hospital following the White Island deadly eruption in New Zealand, the New Zealand Police said on Sunday.

The authority did not release the victim's name or age at the request of his family.

Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said that with three helicopters and eight members on board, the united squad of search team left for White island early Sunday morning.

"Unfortunately, we did not locate a body," he said.

New Zealand divers attempt to recover last 2 volcano victims

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) — Police divers working in near zero visibility in contaminated waters around New Zealand’s volcanic White Island tried Saturday to find the remaining two victims of an eruption that left at least 16 dead and dozens severely burned.

Ash and other fallout from Monday’s eruption has made the sea near the island toxic and divers have to be washed clean after every completed dive. Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims called search conditions “unique and challenging.”

New Zealand recovers 6 bodies days after volcanic eruption

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand military specialists recovered six bodies from a small volcanic island Friday days after an eruption claimed at least eight other lives and left a toxic and volatile landscape.

The eight specialists wearing protective clothing and using breathing apparatuses landed by helicopter and found six of the bodies thought to remain on White Island since the eruption Monday. The bodies were airlifted to a ship near the island off New Zealand’s eastern coast where scientists and other police and military personnel monitored the risky operation.

New Zealand planning retrieval of bodies on volcanic island

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand officials said they’ll begin Friday to recover eight victims’ bodies believed to remain on a small island since a volcanic explosion there earlier this week.

Continuing volcanic activity has delayed the retrieval of the eight bodies from ash-covered White Island, where an eruption occurred Monday as 47 tourists were exploring the landscape. Eight people were confirmed killed and dozens were severely burned in the blast of steam and ash.

'She is speaking out to us': Māori leader says volcano eruption was a message

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (Reuters) - Pouroto Ngaropo, standing on an ancient settlement site overlooking the island of Whakaari, recites his ancestry back thousands of years, back to the volcano which erupted there on Monday.

“Whakaari is my connection to the ocean, to the land, and to the environment around me ... we are one and she’s our ancestor,” said the 51-year old Māori spiritual leader whose genealogy is depicted in the tattoo art known as a ‘tā moko’ adorning his face.

New Zealand volcano vents steam, stymies recovery of bodies

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand island volcano vented more steam and mud Wednesday in an increase of geothermal activity that again delayed the recovery of victims’ bodies from a deadly eruption two days ago.

Volcanic tremors on White Island rose in the morning, accompanied by releases of more steam and mud, the GeoNet seismic monitoring agency said.

No signs of life after New Zealand volcanic eruption: PM

WELLINGTON, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed Tuesday that "no signs of life have been seen at any point" after helicopters and aircraft have undertaken a number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since a volcanic eruption.

Five people have been confirmed dead and eight others are still missing, presumed dead, in the volcanic eruption in New Zealand's White Island in the Eastern Bay of Plenty of the North Island on Monday. Thirty-one people are in seven hospitals and three have been discharged so far, according to the police.

Sydney choked by hazardous haze from Australia bush fires

SYDNEY (AP) — Wildfires engulfed the Australian city of Sydney on Tuesday in haze so thick in some places it was 11 times worse than the level considered “hazardous,” and was apt to trigger fire alarms.

The city canceled ferries and some offices in the downtown area were evacuated.

Local health officials advised people to stay indoors as much as possible and those with heart and lung problems were told to avoid all outdoor activity.

New Zealand police open criminal probe into volcano deaths

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) — Survivors of a powerful volcanic eruption in New Zealand ran into the sea to escape the scalding steam and ash and emerged covered in burns, say those who first helped them.

The accounts Tuesday came as some relatives were forced to continue waiting for news of their loved ones, with authorities deciding it remained too dangerous for crews to land on the island and remove bodies.

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