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Two further fatalities following Whakaari / White Island eruption

Two further people have died following the eruption on Whakaari / White Island, bringing the official toll to eight.

One was being treated at Middlemore Hospital and one at Waikato Hospital.

A number of the victims were on a land excursion after cruising into Tauranga on the Ovation of the Seas – of the 47 people reported to be on White Island at the time of the eruption on Monday, 38 of them were from Ovation of the Seas.

The cruise ship made an unscheduled overnight stay in Tauranga on Monday to await any further information and departed Tauranga on Wednesday.

The recovery of bodies from Whakaari/White Island is an absolute priority for police says a police spokesperson.

Police has disaster victim identification specialists standing by in Whakatane ready to be deployed.

Police is required to follow the international process for disaster victim identification – including the formal examination and documentation of bodies at the scene to ensure they are correctly identified and all the necessary information is gathered for subsequent investigations.

Those deploying to the island will likely encounter serious physical and chemical hazards, for which they must be prepared.

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