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Hero helicopter pilot allowed to join Whakaari/White Island recovery mission, with crews on standby

Helicopter pilot Mark Law, who flew into danger to rescue people injured in the Whakaari-White Island eruption, has been invited to join the official recovery operation - and crews are on standby to go.

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The footage was taken from a helicopter on December 11, 2019. Source: 1 NEWS

In recent days Mr Law has expressed frustration at the lack of progress on recovering the bodies of eight people still on the island.

Authorities have repeatedly said it's still too dangerous to go back, based on information and data from volcanologists.

Recovery teams are on standby this morning for the all-clear to travel to the island. Now Mr Law has been invited to join them.

"His skill and courage, let alone his intimate knowledge of the island and victim location, will be invaluable to the successful recovery of the victims," Police Minister Stuart Nash told media late last night.

Mark Inman is another one of the pilots trying to get back to the island. His brother Hayden's body lies there.

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Yesterday he applied to the Prime Minister for a pardon and permission to go to the island regardless of the safety, but Mr Nash says that's not happening.

"The environment on the island has changed. We won't be giving anyone a pardon. The last thing we want to do is to have further causalities in what is already a significant causality."

Mr Nash wouldn't be drawn on what would happen if Mr Inman took matters into his own hands and went anyway.

"We will not give anyone permission to go to the island. We need to understand the risks - when we understand the risks, then we can work to mitigate the chances of anyone else being injured in this.

"The island today is not what it was on Monday morning. Believing because there's blue sky and you can see the island, there are no hazards, is completely false.

"The last thing we want to do is for people to risk their lives and go out to the island in a foolhardy [mission], but I understand out of frustration, when in fact all they're doing is putting themselves in great harm."

Police say they're committed to recovering the bodies of the eight people remaining on the island.

"We want to go back to the island… our number one priority is to return to the island and recover bodies," Deputy Commissioner John Tims said last night.

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Nine people are officially missing after the natural disaster.

Mr Nash says some of the people in hospital are still unidentified, battling critical injuries and unable to communicate.

Six people have been killed by the fatal eruption, with the eight on the island presumed dead.

Twenty-nine people are still in critical condition in hospitals around the country, suffering severe burns.