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New Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Are Struggling To Be Identified

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 11 Dec 2019 12:04
New Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Are Struggling To Be IdentifiedNew Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Are Struggling To Be IdentifiedAP/PA

New Zealand officials have been left unable to identify survivors from the White Island volcanic eruption, with many of them so badly burned they cannot speak.

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Police initially said there was ‘no sign of life’ on the island following the eruption, leading them to believe there would be no survivors, however 30 burns victims are now being treated in hospitals across New Zealand.

Identifying those caught up in the blast, which killed at least six people, has proved extremely difficult due to the extent of the injuries.

New Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Can't Be IdentifiedNew Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Can't Be IdentifiedAP

Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims confirmed they are trying to return the bodies to grieving families.

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He said:

The nature of the injuries that people have suffered is severe and means identifying them is a complex matter.

We are working through the process to identify them as quickly as possible, to return those who have died to their loved ones.

Speaking to RNZ, Police Minister Stuart Nash added:

As you can imagine there are a number in hospital who cannot communicate because they have had significant burns not only to skin but to internal organs.

They cannot speak in any way, shape or form.

No Survivors On New Zealand Island After Volcano Eruption, Police SayNo Survivors On New Zealand Island After Volcano Eruption, Police SayPA Images

The name and nationality of the sixth victim has not yet been released, however police confirmed they had been receiving treatment in hospital before succumbing to their injuries late on Tuesday evening.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said ‘up to three’ of the dead are Australian nationals, while Malaysia confirmed that one of its citizens had died. However none of them have been identified.

The victims, believed to be from the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, China, Malaysia and the United States, range from 13 to 72.

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New Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Can't Be IdentifiedNew Zealand Volcano Victims So Badly Burned They Can't Be IdentifiedAP

Among those on the island, 38 were passengers travelling on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, which had made its way from Sydney to New Zealand from December 4.

Sadly, New Zealand chief medic Pete Watson has said he believes ‘not all’ the wounded would survive.

Now investigators must work out how to recover the remaining eight bodies from the island given fears of another eruption and toxic gasses.

No Survivors On New Zealand Island After Volcano Eruption, Police SayNo Survivors On New Zealand Island After Volcano Eruption, Police SayPA Images

Police have gone back on claims there would be a criminal investigation into the eruption, later confirming there would be a probe ‘into the circumstances of the deaths and injuries’ on behalf of the coroner.

Monday’s eruption was the first deadly eruption on the White Island since 1914.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: News, AP, New Zealand, Volcano, White Island

Credits

RNZ
  1. RNZ

    Whakaari / White Island eruption: Criminal inquiry a 'slip of the tongue' - Stuart Nash