AUCKLAND, New Zealand - New Zealand Defence Force and police officers successfully recovered six bodies from Whakaari/White Island on Friday, 5 days after the volcano on the island erupted, shooting ash, rocks and toxic gas over 47 tourists on tours to the island.
"Unfortunately the recovery option is not over as two people remain unaccounted for. We know at least one body is in the water and divers on the Police launch Deodar are currently attempting to recover this body," New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement Friday.
"We are making every effort to locate and recover the two remaining deceased."
"This has been a harrowing event for the Whakatane community and those family and friends directly impacted by the eruption of Whakaari/White Island on Monday," the commissioner said.
"The operation today went to plan and we would like to recognise our partners at NZDF who have provided the specialist skills and resources to help us deliver this part of the operation."
"The operation was not without risk but thanks to sound planning and the skills of the specialist team involved we have recovered the six bodies," Bush explained.
"The environment the recovery team faced today was highly unpredictable and challenging. They showed absolute courage and commitment to ensure we can offer some closure to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones."
Of the six bodies recovered for there was some confusion as to whether five or 6 were of Australians that were killed in the tragedy. There is the possibility a New Zealand tour guide was among the 6. Making it difficult for authorities is that the bodies, as with some of the injured victims, have been burnt beyond recognition,
"An internationally-approved process for disaster victim identification is being followed. This process is stringent, and it does take time, but we cannot get it wrong," New Zealand's Chief Coroner, Judge Deborah Marshall, said Friday.
"The six bodies of those who've sadly passed, that have been retrieved today, will be transported to Auckland for the post-mortem process," she said.
The official death toll as of Friday remained at ten.
- Jessica Richards, 20, from Brisbane, Australia
- Julie Richards, 47, from Brisbane, Australia
- Hayden Marshall-Inman, Whakatane, New Zealand
- Gavin Brian Dallow, 53, lawyer, from Adelaide, South Australia
- Zoe Hosking, 15, from Adelaide, South Australia
- Matthew Hollander, 13, from Sydney, Australia
- Berend Hollander, 16, from Sydney, Australia
- Richard Aaron Elzer, 32, from Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
- Karla Michelle Mathews, 32, from Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
- Jason David Griffiths, 33, from Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
Those officially missing are:
- Krystal Browitt, 21, Melbourne, Australia
- Tipene Maangi, New Zealand
Those unaccounted for are:
- Maureen Jones, 68, from Bathurst, NSW, Australia
- Kristine Langford from North Sydney, Australia
- Anthony Langford, 51, from North Sydney, Australia
- Winona Langford, 17, from North Sydney, Australia
- Martin Hollander, 48, from Sydney, Australia
- Barbara Hollander, from Sydney, Australia
- Susan Maree Cole, from Australia
- Joshua Qin, 5, from Sydney, Australia
- Jane Murray, 56, from Sydney, Australia
Those that have survived are:
- Jesse Langford, 19, from North Sydney, Australia
- James Whitehouse, 23, from Brisbane, Australia
- Madeleine Whitehouse, 24, from Brisbane, Australia
- Stuart Raymond Trott, 45, from Melbourne, Australia
- Amy Miall, 30, from Brisbane, Australia
- Mathew Thomas, 31, from Tamworth, NSW, Australia
- Tarli Sky Tonks, 14, from Tasmania, Australia
- Eloise Kirk, 35, from NSW, Australia
- Maree Fish, 46, from Brisbane, Australia
- Karen Brechin, 63, from Townsville, Queensland, Australia
- Carlos Alfonso Velazquez, 75, from Noble Park, Melbourne, Australia
- Mitchell James O'Shea, from Canberra, ACT, Australia
- Sheree Toope, 31, from Sydney, Australia
- Alison Harris, 53, from Newcastle, NSW, Australia
- Marion London, 56, from Sydney, Australia
- Ziggy Viero, 7
- Shane Burgess from Newcastle, NSW, Australia
- Gary Woolley, from Sydney, Australia
- Robert Rogers, 78, from Herberton, Queensland, Australia
- Lisa Hosking, 48, from Adelaide, Australia (critically ill in hospital).
- Samson Tamaliunas, 12, from Western Australia
(Photo credit: NZDF).