New Zealand volcano toll rises to 18

Updated: 16 December, 2019 11:15 IST | Agencies | Wellington

Another 26 survivors remain in New Zealand and Australian hospitals, of which 20 are listed as "critical" and fighting for their lives after the eruption on the desolate island, which is the country's most active volcano

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (right) speaks during a press conference about a mission to retrieve bodies. Pic/AFP
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (right) speaks during a press conference about a mission to retrieve bodies. Pic/AFP

Wellington: The death toll from New Zealand's White Island volcano eruption rose to 18 on Sunday, including two people whose bodies have not been recovered, police said.

A land search early Sunday failed to find any sign of the missing pair and divers returned to the sea in the afternoon amid increasing speculation both could be in the water.

Deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said there was "every chance" the bodies had been washed into the sea from the stream where they were last seen on Monday.

He added that searchers were "satisfied that the area we searched near the jetty is clear of the bodies". "The rescue teams are frustrated. We understand completely how frustrating it is for loved ones who want the bodies back," Clement said.

Forty-seven people were on the island — a popular tourist attraction — when the explosion happened. The death toll now stands at 18 after an Australian victim who had been repatriated to Sydney died in hospital almost a week after the deadly eruption.

Another 26 survivors remain in New Zealand and Australian hospitals, of which 20 are listed as "critical" and fighting for their lives after the eruption on the desolate island, which is the country's most active volcano.

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First Published: 16 December, 2019 11:14 IST

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