'It's not over yet': Dive team to continue search tomorrow

The  Whakaari/ White Island volcano remains volatile. Photo: Reuters
The Whakaari/ White Island volcano remains volatile. Photo: Reuters

The police dive team haven't found the remaining two bodies yet and will return to the island to try again tomorrow, Commissioner Mike Bush says.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush told media this afternoon that while this morning's successful recovery of six bodies from the island went to plan, the mission was not over yet.

"Unfortunately there remains two more people that we need to find so we can also return them.

"It's not over yet."

He told media it was believed at least one of the bodies was in the water. They were unsure if the other one was in the water or on the island.

In a statement this evening he said: " "The Navy team will work with the police dive team when they return tomorrow. The team are resting now."

An aerial search would take place on Whakaari/White Island this afternoon in an attempt to find more bodies.

A body was sighted in the water near the island, which was where the dive team was searching today.

There had been an earlier attempt to recover that body which was unsuccessful due to weather.

"To say it was choppy would be an understatement."

The recovery team looked in predetermined places on the island for another body, but were unsuccessful.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne earlier said teams would return to White Island "as soon as possible" to retrieve two bodies still to be recovered after a deadly volcano eruption, says.

A New Zealand military team earlier recovered six bodies this morning from the volcanic island that fatally erupted earlier this week, in a high risk operation watched by dozens of grieving family members waiting on the mainland.

Payne said the military team were unable to retrieve the other two because of equipment constraints, but the team will return as soon as they can.

"Due to the limitations of equipment and the need to complete the operation within a particular period of time," Payne said about why two bodies remain on the island.

"The New Zealand authorities have indicated they will return as soon as it is possible to do so."

Asked if the six bodies that had been lifted off White Island were all Australians, she said: "I think it is difficult to say in advance of the formal process but we know, and we have been advised by authorities, that that is expected to be the case, yes."

Senator Payne said 11 Australian survivors had been flown by military and civilian aircraft to hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney.

"One Australian who may be able to be transferred remains in New Zealand and we hope that that transfer will be affected in the coming days," she said.

"We then have, of course, those bodies who have been retrieved from the island this morning and of course those who were able to get off the island who returned to the vessel itself or otherwise left New Zealand."

She said there were also four permanent residents of Australia who had been caught up in the eruption.

Two died in hospital, one was presumed dead, and there were plans to transfer the fourth to Australia for ongoing medical care.

Reuters, ODT and AAP

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