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News / Search to recover two deceased continues

Search to recover two deceased continues

Search to recover two deceased continues

Posted December 14, 2019
Emergency Services

Media Release: NZ Police

The operation to locate and recover the two deceased who remain unaccounted for following the Whakaari / White Island eruption continues today.

The Police Dive Squad and Navy divers this morning resumed their search for a body seen in the water on Tuesday.

Following the successful recovery of six bodies from the island yesterday, Police and partner agencies are today analysing all information and assessing possible next steps.

There will be no return to the island today, however, today’s planning will allow a return to the island to conduct further land-based searches for the remaining deceased, as the environment on and around the island allows.

The bodies recovered from Whakaari / White Island have been taken to Auckland for the post mortem and disaster victim identification process.

Together with Police Disaster Victim Investigation experts, forensic pathologists, ESR, odontologists and the Coroner’s office, an internationally approved process for disaster management identification (DVI) will be followed. The process is stringent and can take some time.

“This is a long and complex process and we are working as quickly as possible to return loved ones to their families,” said Deputy Commissioner John Tims, National Operations Commander.

“The victims and their families are our priority but we also have important obligations. We must work on behalf of the Coroner to ensure correct identification. It would be unforgivable to get the identification process wrong.”

There are five stages to the victim identification process through the gathering of evidence and working with families of those who are missing. The Coroner must then confirm the victims’ identities.