New Zealand planning retrieval of bodies on volcanic island

WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND (AP) – A team of eight New Zealand military specialists will land on a small volcanic island just after first light today to attempt to retrieve the bodies of eight victims of an eruption that claimed eight other lives.

New Zealand police said late yesterday the recovery attempt will go ahead even though scientists believe another eruption is possible on White Island. Steam and mud are emitting from its active vents and volcanic tremors are rising, volcanologists said.

Police, military, volcano experts and others will monitor the recovery attempt from the HMNZS Wellington, which will be stationed nearby, authorities said. Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement told reporters the recovery operation is “not without risk”.

“They will go onto the island and they will make every effort to recover all of the bodies,” Clement said at a news conference.

The continuing volcanic activity has delayed the recovery of the last victims since Monday’s deadly eruption, which occurred as 47 tourists were exploring the island. In addition to the bodies left on the island, eight other people were killed and dozens were severely burned by the blast of scalding steam and ash.