Tremors pre­vent re­cov­ery of bod­ies

Six killed, nine miss­ing, 30 in­jured fol­low­ing ex­plo­sion on Mon­day

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - WORLD - CHAR­LOTTE GREEN­FIELD

WHAKATANE, New Zealand — In­creas­ing tremors on a vol­canic is­land in New Zealand on Wed­nes­day height­ened the risk of an­other mas­sive erup­tion, pre­vent­ing the re­cov­ery of bod­ies two days af­ter an erup­tion en­gulfed dozens of tourists in steam and hot ash.

Six peo­ple were killed in Mon­day's ex­plo­sion at White Is­land, which lies some 50 kilo­me­tres off the main­land, with an­other nine of­fi­cially listed as miss­ing, and 30 in­jured.

Aus­tralian Gavin Dal­low, 53, and his step­daugh­ter Zoe Hosk­ing, 15, were the lat­est vic­tims to be iden­ti­fied on Wed­nes­day.

"Our hearts break at the loss of Zoe at such a young age," the Dal­low fam­ily said in an emailed state­ment. "We mourn the loss of Gavin and Zoe."

And the death toll could rise with 29 peo­ple in in­ten­sive care in sev­eral hos­pi­tals around the coun­try.

Twenty seven peo­ple have hor­rific burns to 30 per cent or more of their body and 22 are also on air­way sup­port due to the sever­ity of their burns, said med­i­cal au­thor­i­ties.

"We an­tic­i­pate we will re­quire an ad­di­tional 1.2 mil­lion square cen­time­ters of skin for the on­go­ing needs of the pa­tients," Coun­ties Manukau Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer, Dr Peter Wat­son, said at Mid­dle­more Hos­pi­tal in Auck­land.

"The na­ture of the burns suf­fered is com­pli­cated by the gases and chem­i­cals in the erup­tion. This has ne­ces­si­tated more rapid treat­ment of these burns than is the case for ther­mal-only burns," said Wat­son.

Sur­gi­cal teams were en­gaged in around-the-clock treat­ment.

"This is just the start of a very long process that for some pa­tients will last sev­eral months," he said.

TOO RISKY

Au­thor­i­ties mon­i­tor­ing the un­in­hab­ited is­land said con­di­tions were wors­en­ing and there was now a 40-60 per cent chance of a mas­sive erup­tion sim­i­lar to

Mon­day in the next 24 hours.

"In sum­mary, yes­ter­day there was a high risk of an erup­tion. To­day there is an even higher risk of an erup­tion. And the pa­ram­e­ters are wors­en­ing at the mo­ment," Gra­ham Leonard, a se­nior vol­ca­nol­o­gist at GNS Sci­ence, told a news con­fer­ence in Welling­ton.

A plume of smoke could still be seen com­ing from the is­land.

"I've spo­ken to many of those in­volved in the op­er­a­tion and they are very, very ea­ger to get back there, they want to bring peo­ple's loved ones home," New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said in an in­ter­view with Reuters in Welling­ton.

Po­lice said the safety of re­cov­ery teams was the pri­or­ity and are await­ing ad­vice from ex­perts on when they could ac­cess the is­land. That has prompted some crit­i­cism au­thor­i­ties are be­ing too cau­tious.

Daily tours bring more than 10,000 vis­i­tors to the pri­vately owned is­land ev­ery year, mar­keted as "the world's most ac­ces­si­ble ac­tive marine vol­cano."

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