Week later New Zealand continues search for missing bodies

New Zealand on Monday marked one week since the deadly volcano eruption on White Island where 47 tourists were visiting, as the search continues for the bodies of two missing people.

A nationwide minute’s silence was held on Monday afternoon at 2:11 p.m. local time, the time one week ago that the island, also known as Whakaari, erupted.

The official death toll is now 16, including 15 people who died in New Zealand and one person who died after being transferred to Australia. Another two people are believed dead, with police saying their bodies are likely to be in the water around White Island.

A total of 14 people remain in hospitals around New Zealand, with 10 in a critical condition, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Last week, 13 patients were transferred to hospitals in Australia, although one later died, she said.
New Zealand has ordered 1,292 square feet (120 square meters) of skin to treat patients injured in the eruption.

Over the weekend, a police dive squad searched the waters around the island for the two remaining bodies. The waters around the island are contaminated, and divers have reported seeing dead fish and eels washed ashore and floating in the water.

On Sunday, a recovery team wearing protective clothing returned to the island to search for the two bodies.

Last week a specialist team recovered six bodies from the island on Friday, five days after the eruption.

White Island’s volcanic alert level remains at two on a five-point scale. That means there is moderate to heightened volcanic unrest, and a 30% to 40% chance of an eruption occurring that would impact outside of the volcano’s vent area over the next 24 hours.

The volcano ¬†off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island is a popular tourist spot, and receives 10,000 visitors annually.