White Island Rescue Team Will Try to Recover Eight Bodies
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Rescuers will try to reach New Zealand’s White Island on Friday in an attempt to recover the bodies of eight people who died in Monday’s deadly volcano explosion.
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“A crack eight-member special operations New Zealand military unit will be dispatched at ‘first light,’” the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The Australian newspaper added that police have warned that “the complex plan is not foolproof and could put the lives of the team at risk.”
Scientists are warning that seismic activity on the island has increased, and there is a 60 percent chance there would be another eruption in the next 24 hours, the Herald added.
“A lot has to go right for this to work,” New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement told the press. The operation is “beyond our control” and will take a “number of hours.”
Additional Victims Are Presumed Dead on White Island
Forty-seven people were on White Island when its active volcano erupted suddenly early Monday afternoon. According to the New Zealand Herald, the eight people on the island have been declared dead.
Six of the deceased are Australians and two “are likely to be” New Zealanders -- White Island tour guide Tipene Maangi and boat captain Hayden Marshall-Inman. “Dozens more are in hospital, many with severe burns,” the Herald added.
Survivors Include Two American Tourists
A rescue vessel picked up 23 people with “horrible burns,” New Zealand pastor Geoff Hopkins told CNN. Among them were honeymooners Matthew Urey, 36, and Lauren Barham, 32, of Richmond, Virginia. They were on a day trip to the island from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.
Urey and Barham are being treated at two different hospitals, one in Christchurch and one in Auckland. Urey’s mother, Janet Urey, told CNN that “33% of his body is burned.” She added that she was “lucky enough to be notified by Matt that he’s okay. There were many families that didn’t get any word.”
Barham’s Mother on Her Way to See Daughter
CNN also spoke by text message with Barbara Barham, who was in route to New Zealand to see her daughter, Lauren. “We don’t know how she is yet,” Barbara Barham said. “We don’t think she is conscious.”
New Zealand’s four special burns units are now full because of the White Island catastrophe.