Toll climbs after NZ volcano blast
13 DEAD: SEARCH STALLS AS MORE ERUPTIONS FEARED
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.
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.
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.