Helicopter pilot says rain and ash are hampering search for bodies of White Island victims

A helicopter pilot involved in today's Whakaari/White Island recovery operation says heavy rainfall on Monday along with vast amounts of ash falling into the crater may have shifted the position of the two remaining bodies left on the island.

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Mark Law says two bodies were seen earlier in the week but are no longer in the same location. Source: 1 NEWS

Police have confirmed that today’s recovery mission did not locate either of the two bodies missing since Monday’s eruption.

The team of eight Search and Rescue staff returned by helicopter to the mainland around 10.30am.

Helicopter pilot Mark Law told 1 NEWS that the bodies were earlier seen near a small stream bed but were no longer there yesterday.

He says yesterday rescue staff observed a "tremendous amount of ash in the crater" and combined with heavy rainfall, the bodies were likely in a different location.

"We think Monday night when that big storm went through, and its probably been enough to either wash the two persons that were in the stream that we saw maybe down into the harbour," he said.

"It's always going to be problematic because we knew they were there, we saw them, and now they're not," he said.

"The dive teams are working really hard, and they’ve been out there a number of days and got a good programme going. but its a big old ocean."