Whakaari / White Island: 'Today was all about reuniting them with their loved ones' - PM

9:26 pm on 13 December 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says authorities felt a duty of care to recover the bodies of the victims killed by Monday's eruption on Whakaari / White Island.

The Whakaari / White Island mission to recover bodies of the victims.

Photo: NZDF

Six bodies have been recovered after a team worked on Whakaari / White Island for four hours today.

Ardern began a media stand-up late this afternoon by acknowledging the families of the victims, and today was all about reunting them with their loves ones.

"We know that reunification won't ease that sense of loss and grief."

She visited the Navy ship the Wellington to meet emergency services personnel, scientists and those who went onto the island.

She said they were true professionals who acted with a huge amount of courage.

"I can tell you from my conversation with them that they were humble people. They carried out their roles with dignity and respect."

She said statements from the Australian government about all those who were recovered being Australian were not correct.

She added that it was too early to say whether tours to White island should be stopped.

Speaking at a press conference earlier this afternoon, police commissioner Mike Bush said at least one of the remaining two bodies could be in the water surrounding the island, and a dive squad has been deployed.

See how the day unfolded with RNZ's live updates here

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