Toll climbs af­ter NZ vol­cano blast


The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Whakatane

27 of 34 sur­vivors treated for burns to 71% of their bod­ies.

Tales of hero­ism, dev­as­ta­tion and hor­ri­fy­ing in­juries emerged yes­ter­day af­ter New Zealand’s smoul­der­ing White Is­land vol­cano ex­ploded, killing an es­ti­mated 13 peo­ple and turn­ing a day trip into a night­mare.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said there were five con­firmed fa­tal­i­ties and eight more peo­ple were pre­sumed dead, while dozens of in­jured had been air­lifted to hos­pi­tals across the coun­try.

Among the 47 peo­ple on the is­land dur­ing the sud­den blast on Mon­day af­ter­noon were tourists from Aus­tralia, the US, Bri­tain, China, Ger­many and Malaysia and lo­cal tour guides.

Po­lice said con­di­tions still re­mained far too dan­ger­ous for re­cov­ery teams to set foot on the vol­cano.

Paramedic Rus­sell Clark was among those dis­patched by he­li­copter to the vol­cano, which sits semi-sub­merged 50km out to sea. He was con­fronted by an “over­whelm­ing” and “shock­ing” scene of dev­as­ta­tion.

“We didn’t find any sur­vivors,” he told TVNZ.

Top New Zealand health of­fi­cial Pete Wat­son said 27 of the 34 sur­vivors were be­ing treated for burns to more than 71% of their bod­ies.

Af­ter an ini­tial rush, con­cerns about fur­ther erup­tions, poi­sonous gases and chok­ing ash stalled ef­forts to re­cover bod­ies.


Pic­ture: AFP

SHOCK WAVES. New Zealand’s Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern hugs a first re­spon­der from the St John’s am­bu­lance team who helped those in­jured in the White Is­land vol­cano erup­tion on Mon­day, at the Whakatane Fire Sta­tion in Whakatane.

Pic­ture: AFP

DEV­AS­TA­TION. The view from a res­cue he­li­copter as it heads to­wards the smoul­der­ing White Is­land vol­cano off the coast of New Zealand’s North Is­land. The erup­tion claimed 13 lives.

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