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Death toll reaches 16, two bodies still missing: New Zealand police

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-12-15 16:08

Members of a rescue crew are seen at the White Island volcano, also known by its Maori name Whakaari, in New Zealand, Dec 13, 2019, in this image obtained via social media. [Photo/Agencies]

WELLINGTON - A 16th person has been confirmed dead in an Australian hospital following the White Island deadly eruption in New Zealand, the New Zealand Police said on Sunday.

The authority did not release the victim's name or age at the request of his family.

Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said that with three helicopters and eight members on board, the united squad of search team left for White island early Sunday morning.

"Unfortunately, we did not locate a body," he said.

Tims also mentioned that the search operation lasted only about 75 minutes due to the toxic air condition on the island and the oxygen limit carried by the rescue personnel.

Divers' work under the water was fruitless due to low visibility.

Meanwhile, the process of identifying victims and releasing bodies to their loved ones was ongoing in Auckland. Four more victims have been identified.

Altogether 47 people were on White Island at the time of the eruption on Monday. The eruption has already caused 16 dead and multiple injuries.

Many of the survivors still remained in critical conditions.

The two Chinese nationals injured during the eruption recovered consciousness and were in stable condition.

White Island, a volcanic island, is a famous tourist attraction which people can explore by boat or by helicopter. But now all tourist trips to the island have been suspended by the authorities.

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