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Australian Government sends defence force plane to transport victims of White Island eruption home for specialist care

Six people are confirmed dead after a volcano eruption at Whakaari/White Island on Monday, with eight others missing and presumed dead on the island. Coverage from day three of the tragedy can be found below.

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The confirmed death toll from the eruption is now six, after a person died in hospital overnight. But eight others are presumed dead on the island. Source: 1 NEWS

Key points:

  • Whakaari/White Island erupted at 2.11pm on Monday.

  • Six people are confirmed dead. Eight people are missing and presumed dead, with six bodies seen on the island.

  • 47 people were on the island when it erupted. 30 are still in hospital and three have been discharged.

  • Rescue services have been unable to reach the island so far, due to risks of further eruptions.

8.40pm: More stories from the days White Island eruption coverage can be found at the links below. This concludes 1 NEWS' live updates for the evening, keep checking for the site for updates on breaking news.

Over 1 million square centimetres of skin coming to NZ for White Island burn victims
Hope 'snuffed out' for Queensland mum, daughter on White Island - 'our worst fears confirmed'
Answers for Whakatāne can't come soon enough as media floods into seaside town

8:10pm: An Australian patient has been flown home for treatment from Wellington on a private plane this evening.

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The person was flown from Wellington this evening. Source: 1 NEWS

7.55pm: The Australian Government has just released a statement outlining the repatriation efforts of Australian patients back home for specialist medical care.

"Together with the New Zealand Government, and relevant authorities, we are doing everything we can to assist those directly impacted and their families.

"The Government has activated a repatriation plan to bring a number of Australians injured in the White Island volcano tragedy from New Zealand to Australia for specialist medical care.

"This plan has been formed following the Australian Government’s offer of assistance to New Zealand to support its response to the tragic events at White Island.

"Australian and New Zealand authorities are working closely together to enable the repatriations."

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A number of Australians were caught up in the disaster on Monday. Source: 1 NEWS

7.25pm: Police have just released an update with a list of people missing after the eruption.

They say it isn't a complete list of the missing as they have been unable to speak with all next of kin involved.

• Gavin Dallow (Australia)
• Jessica Richards (Australia)
• Krystal Browitt (Australia)
• Richard Elzer (Australia)
• Zoe Hosking (Australia)
• Karla Matthews (Australia)
• Julie Richards (Australia)
• Tipene Maangi (New Zealand)
• Hayden Inman (New Zealand)

Australian media and family members have today said that Gavin Dallow, Julie and Jessica Richards have all been confirmed as being deceased, with Zoe Hosking presumed dead.

7.00pm: Australian media is reporting that two family members from Adelaide have been identified as dying in the White Island eruption.

A family statement says Gavin Dallow 53, has been found and identified by New Zealand police.

Gavin Dallow.

The Dallow family said his stepdaughter, 15-year-old Zoe Hosking, was presumed dead and believed her body was still on White Island where the eruption took place, Nine News reports. 

6.15pm: The latest aerial images from White Island have just come in to 1 NEWS.

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

5.45pm: Latest patient number update: 

7 in Middlemore Hospital, 4 in Hutt Valley Hospital, 2 in Auckland City Hospital, 2 in Tauranga Base Hospital, 6 in Waikato, 8 in Christchurch Hospital and 1 in Wellington Hospital.

5.40pm: One person will be transported from Wellington to Australia by air ambulance tonight and more Australian patients are expected to be taken home for treatment via the Australian Defence Force in the coming days.

There are 1.2 million square centimetres of skin - for the ongoing needs of the patients - coming to New Zealand from the United States.

Full video: Physicians treating eruption victims address media at National Burn Centre

5.35pm: NZ Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims says that resources are standing by in Whakatāne ready to return to White Island as soon as they get the all clear.

In this evening's press conference he was adamant victims' bodies still on the island will be recovered.

Full video: Emergency management officials give latest update on Whakaari/White Island disaster

5.25pm: GNS senior volcanologist Graham Leonard has given an update of conditions on the island.

"Parameters are worsening for the risk of another eruption.

"The risk on the island of another eruption like Monday is 40 to 60 per cent, up from 30 to 50 per cent yesterday."

5.15pm: The press conference has just begun with the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management saying:

"This morning we were hopeful we could recover bodies, but it's not possible due to conditions on the island.

"Everyone is united in the desire to recover the bodies from the island and return them to their loved ones."

4.25pm: A family friend of Julie, 47, and Jessica Richards, 20, - who were confirmed as the first Australians dead in the White Island eruption - has just spoken at a press conference.

"It is just devastating news, the NZ Police early this morning confirmed that both Julie and Jess are amongst the deceased.

"Julie and Jess were outdoor adventurous people, they really loved the cruise atmosphere but more particularly they loved the adventurism that went with all the outdoor sports.

"Jess was a promising AFL player who was studying at the University of Queensland.

"The family today are united in grief," John Mickel said on behalf of Julie's brother Michael.

4.00pm: Police will be giving an update from their Wellington headquarters around 5pm this afternoon.

Speaking at the press conference will be:

• National Operation Commander, NZ Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims
• Sarah Stuart Black, Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, National Emergency Management Agency
• Graham Leonard, Senior Scientist, GNS Science

3.40pm: Australian media are reporting a Brisbane mother and daughter have been confirmed dead in the White Island eruption.

Jessica and Julie Richards. Source: Supplied

3.30pm: The GeoNet webcam shows there is more activity on White Island than yesterday, when no steam was visible for large periods.

White Island at 2.50pm, December 11, 2019. Source: GeoNet

3.20pm: Al Noor Mosque Imam Gamal Fouda has issued a statement sending condolences to those caught up in the White Island eruption.

"We want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Please accept our sincere and heartfelt condolences at this most difficult of times and please pass these feelings on to your families.

"There are no words to express our sorrow for your loss.

"With deepest sympathy" - Imam Gamal Fouda.

3.10pm: A section of Whakatāne Wharf - where White Island Tours’ two vessels are moored - has been blocked off to the public as a WorkSafe investigation is carried out.

"A section of the wooden wharf which accommodates the White Island Tours vessels has been closed to public access by Whakatāne District Council," the council said.

"Public access has been restricted for health and safety purposes and temporary fencing has been erected, with signage to follow."

Whakatāne Wharf, December 11, 2019. Source: 1 NEWS

2.45pm: Three more GoFundMe pages have been setup for White Island eruption victims/survivors.

Jason Griffith- https://www.gofundme.com/f/nz-volcano-jason-griffith-critical

Matt & Lauren Urey - https://www.gofundme.com/f/matt-and-lauren-relief-fund

Family of Hayden Inman - https://www.gofundme.com/f/travel-costs-for-the-radmacker-family

2.30pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reiterated that White Island has been more active today.

"Everyone wants those bodies to come back. Unfortunately overnight we have seen a tremor activity.

"The situation in terms of volatility has worsened, rather than improved. But everyone is desperate to get them off," Ms Ardern said.

"It's also a very unpredictable and rapidly changing environment."

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GNS' Brad Scott says there's still a 50-50 chance of an imminent eruption. Source: 1 NEWS

2.15pm: A fundraising effort is underway for a teenager left with severe burns after the eruption.

Jake Milbank, a tour guide, was left with burns to 80 per cent of his body.

Fundraising effort underway for teenager left with severe burns after White Island eruption

1.55pm: Some good news this afternoon.

1.30pm: 1 NEWS takes a look at the history of White Island, which has seen disaster strike in the past.

1.02pm: Seismic activity on White Island has "increased quite dramatically" since about 4am this morning, GNS volcanologist Brad Scott says.

"From what we're seeing from our web cameras, we're seeing gas jetting, big explosions occurring on a regular basis from the active vent area," he told 1 NEWS.

Likelihood of an eruption is still moderately high, he says - "a 50-50 chance".

12.40pm: There are media reports of "107 people" and "eight missing". Here's what both those numbers mean.

Forty-seven people were on the island when it erupted. Eight of those did not return, whether injured or deceased. It's believed all are dead and remain on the island. Those are the "eight missing".

The Red Cross Family Links website functions by inviting people to record who they haven't been able to make contact with. Not all of those people were on the island, nor were they all left behind. This is the list which forms the "107 missing people" report.

Some of the people reported missing will be in hospital, unidentified.

Even as these people are identified and found, being removed from the "missing people" list, it does not reduce or impact the number of people missing on the island - which remains at eight.

It's likely there is some crossover between the two classifications of missing persons, of people remaining on the island who are yet unidentifed.

12.26pm: Don't use the Family Links website as an official missing persons' list, the Red Cross warns.

The website is user-generated and not formally maintained, meaning it's not "necessarily accurate", a spokesperson says.

It's designed for people such as concerned family and friends, or people wishing to mark themselves as safe, to submit their information.

"Official information on persons affected is managed by New Zealand Police. All questions related to people potentially affected by this disaster should be directed to New Zealand Police. New Zealand Red Cross cannot discuss confidential information with any person."

Anyone who has submitted to the website is urged to make sure they keep it up to date, especially if they've reported someone as missing then later made contact with them.

12.00pm: In case you missed it - watch the joint press conference with Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall and Acting Assistant Commissioner Bruce Bird.

11.32am: British people travelling in New Zealand are urged to contact their friends and family and let them know they're safe.

Two British women were injured in the eruption.

Today the British High Commission in New Zealand says it's supporting them and encourages other travellers to reach out to their friends and family to let them know they're safe and well.

11.26am: Twenty-five people are still in a critical condition after the eruption, while another five are in a stable but serious condition, police say.

Most of the injured patients suffered severe burns.

The 30 people are in hospitals around New Zealand - Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Auckland City, Tauranga, Waikato and Christchurch.

11.17am: White Island Tours says they've offered their boats, personnel and equipment to police and the Civil Defence to help support the recovery mission.

Daily karakia are being held to help staff and affected families "come together in our grief", chair Paul Quinn says.

"For Ngāti Awa (tangata whenua of Whakatāne) our responsibility to provide care for our people and visitors during this difficult time is foremost in our minds and actions.

"We are focused on wrapping the necessary support around affected families and staff, all of whom are understandably distraught."

Support packages are being put together today to help overseas families who are arriving in Whakatāne, Mr Quinn says, including "practical and useful items" for them.