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Map released showing where six bodies recovered from White Island were located

Six of the bodies on Whakaari-White Island have successfully been recovered and taken to the waiting HMNZS Wellington, ready to be taken back to the mainland. Read today's live updates below.

Map of where the six bodies were located on White Island. Source: NZDF

Key points:

  • Fourteen people are confirmed dead so far, with six bodies still to be identified.
  • A specialist team from Police and NZDF have recovered six bodies from the island today.
  • GNS volcanologists say there's a 50 to 60 per cent chance of another eruption.

7.00pm: This concludes 1 NEWS' live updates, visit the homepage for the latest updates.

6.25pm: White Island victim Tipene Maangi was 'jovial person' who made everyone happy, nanny says.

6.10pm: Middlemore Hospital told 1 NEWS there are 15 people still in hospital around NZ from the eruption.

They say 13 Australians have been taken home and that this is “absolutely” all Australians now repatriated.

According to RNZ, Dr Peter Watson says 11 of the victims who remain in New Zealand burns units are in a "very critical condition with extensive, severe burns".

5.50pm: The latest press conference on White Island featuring Jacinda Ardern can be viewed here in full.

5.30pm: GNS Science has just released a new update on White Island's activity level.

"The level of volcanic tremor has declined but remains elevated at Whakaari/White Island. No further eruptions have occurred since Monday 9 December.

"The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2."

5.25pm: The six bodies recovered today are on their way to Auckland Hospital on a helicopter for identification by a coroner.

The latest press conference has now ended.

5.20pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it simply "won't be accurate" that the six recovered bodies from White Island are all Australian citizens.

It comes as Australia's Foreign Minister earlier said all six were Australian's.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the dive team haven't found "anybody as of yet" and they are currently taking a rest.

He says they may continue the search today as there is "a bit of daylight left."

5.15pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she visited some of those involved in today's operation on the HMNZ Otago.

"They carried out their roles with dignity and respect for those who lost their lives

"It took a huge amount of courage to do what they did, today my job was on behalf of New Zealand to say thank you," Ms Ardern said.

5.10pm: Colonel Rian McKinstry from the NZDF says the photos released this afternoon were taken in the early stages of the operation around 8am from a Navy Seasprite helicopter.

5.00pm: Click here to watch Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's media briefing.

4.30pm: A map of where the six bodies were located on White Island has been released.

Picture embedded at top of live updates.

4.25pm: A further two Australian patients will be airlifted home from Christchurch today according to LifeFlight Air Ambulance.

"A LifeFlight Air Ambulance jet, with two fully-equipped Intensive Care medical teams on board, has departed from the Brisbane base this morning, as part of the operation to bring home Australian survivors, of the New Zealand volcano tragedy.

"The specialist retrieval medical teams include two LifeFlight Critical Care Doctors and two LifeFlight Critical Care Flight Nurses.

"The intention is for the retrieval teams to travel to a Christchurch hospital and meet with the treating medical staff for an extensive clinical handover.

"The two survivors of the volcano tragedy will then be transported back to the LifeFlight Air Ambulance jet and they will then be airlifted to Australia."

4.10pm: Images from today's recovery operation have just been released by the NZDF. More pictures here.

Body recovery operation on White Island. Source: NZDF

3.35pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to give a briefing about White Island in Whakatāne around 4.30pm.

3.15pm: The Australian Defence Force looks to have concluded its repatriation of Australians injured in the eruption.

"Three Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, with medical specialists and equipment, deployed to New Zealand on 11 December 2019 to repatriate Australian victims of the volcanic eruption.

"This included two C-17A Globemaster aircraft and one C-130J Hercules aircraft.

"In the early hours of 12 December 2019, three patients were repatriated to Australia on two C-17A Globemaster aircraft and transferred to hospitals.

"A further two patients were repatriated on the remaining C-130J Hercules aircraft on the afternoon of 12 December 2019 and transferred to hospitals.

"No further Australian Defence Force support is currently being planned however Defence is ready to respond to any further requests."

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The Australian military’s urgent evacuation mission continues tonight. Source: 1 NEWS

2.55pm: A detailed look at today's recovery mission.

Mission success, but rescuers vow to continue search for two remaining bodies on White Island

2.30pm: On the search currently underway with dive teams, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said:

"We’re very confident one body has been sighted in the water and that’s why we’re diving in that area at the moment."

He said as early as Tuesday they had tried to recover that body.

"It was unsuccessful, it was because of weather conditions – to say it was choppy is an understatement."

The body was in the water "not too far" from the shore.

2.20pm: Colonel Rian McKinstry went into more detail about the recovery operation in this afternoon's briefing.

"There was a six per cent chance in any three-hour period that the volcano may erupt.

"That met our health and safety requirements that it was reasonably safe to put people on the island.

"Those on the island were wearing yellow hazmat suits with a hood that has a closed-circuit breathing apparatus system, gas mask to protect them."

"While we were on island with the remaining air supply the team had they did conduct a search of some pre-prepared zones where we thought there might be some success, unfortunately we weren’t able to find anything."

2.15pm: The Police Commissioner commented on the reporting coming out of Australia that the six recovered bodies are all Australian citizens.

"I am aware of that commentary, I would say it's too early to say, we have a process in hand to identify the six bodies which will take place later today."

2.05pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush says there are "two possibilities" as to where the remaining two bodies are located.

"We believe at least one is in the water, the other one is unsure, it could be one is still on the island and we haven't located them, or it's also in the water."

2.00pm: Colonel Rian McKinstry of the NZDF has praised those involved in the operation and talked of the risk they face.

"We cannot downplay the risk involved in this operation. The conditions and terrain on the island were difficult.

"We will continue to work with the New Zealand police in the ongoing recovery mission."

1.55pm: "This afternoon we are returning with an aerial search of Whakaari to see if we can identify anyone else on the island.

"We are also right now deploying our dive team to search the surrounding waters," Commissioner Bush says.

1.50pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush has just spoken at the briefing about the "traumatic and harrowing events".

"Today NZDF and police and other emergency services were able to recover six people and return them to their loved ones.

"The operation today went to plan and I would like to recognise the expertise of the NZDF staff along with police and other experts.

"The environment that those staff encountered was unpredictable and challenging and those staff showed absolute courage to ensure those six people were returned to loved ones

"However, it's not over yet, there remains two people we need to find so this operation will continue."

1.45pm: Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner has thanked the team who played a part in the "important mission" today.

She says the families are thankful that six bodies were able to be recovered from the island.

1.20pm: A media briefing on the operation is due to be held in 10 minutes time.

1.02pm: An update on the patients' statuses will be provided later today, the National Emergency Management Agency says.

The most recent update was around 9.30am, saying 17 people were being treated across Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Waikato and Christchurch hospitals.

Thirteen people remain in critical condition as of that update.

12.50pm: All six bodies are believed to belong to Australians, according to the Australian Foreign Minister.

"I think it is difficult to say in advance of the formal process but we know, and we have been advised by authorities, that that is expected to be the case, yes," Marise Payne told the Australian Associated Press.

If the six recovered bodies are all Australian tourists, it would mean the bodies of the two Whakatāne tour guides remain missing on the island.

One of the pilots who first responded to the disaster said he had moved the body of Kiwi Hayden Marshall-Inman to "make him comfortable".

12.45pm: Police say they'll address media soon with an update, which 1 NEWS will live stream online.

12.37pm: Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha says the bodies will be flown to Whakatāne before heading up to Auckland, where post-mortems will be completed.

Around 40 vehicles have already gathered at Whakatāne Airport, passing through a cordon and screened by security before entry.

12.26pm: Deputy Commissioner John Tims says the recovery team are safe and well on the HMNZS Wellington, as the six recovered bodies return to mainland before being transferred to hospital.

Two more bodies remain on the island, but police had earlier said there would be "limited opportunity" to search for them.

"I would like to acknowledge the recovery team for their efforts and the bravery they have shown today.

"I would also like to acknowledge all the agencies involved in the recovery operation and Police and New Zealand Defence Force staff for their dedication and commitment to our response over the last five days.

"To the families and the Whakatane community I understand this has been a tragic and harrowing time and our thoughts and prayers are with you all."

The statement did not provide an update on the two missing bodies.

12.17pm: Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement says it was emotional for the families who went close to the island this morning, as part of a blessing on the sea.

"I think people got a great sense of fulfilment, able to grieve close to their whanau," he told 1 NEWS.

Many of the victims are Australians and other tourists.

"I think for those who don't come from this place, they saw something of the New Zealand culture and understand the way that we are," Mr Clement says.

"I think that it was a fantastic opportunity for everybody so, it's as I said very deeply emotional for everybody involved, including the police staff who were on the boat."

He says conditions on the island are manageable, although not perfect.

11.54am: Families are gathered at Whakatāne's Te Mānuka Tūtahi marae as they wait for more news.

There were sighs of relief when they were told six bodies had been recovered, Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha told RNZ.

The planning team are working through the process of recovering the two remaining bodies, he says.

11.50am: The grandmother of one of the missing Whakatāne tour guides says she's hoping he's one of the six bodies that have been recovered so far.

Ruku Tawahiorangi's grandson Tipene Maangi is believed to have died in the eruption, and remembers him fondly.

"All the mokos are favourites, but when we talk about favourite moko, he was the entertainer of the lot," she told 1 NEWS.

"Everybody liked being around him like when they had their parties.

"I'm hoping that he's one of the six. "

11.37am: Three helicopters have just landed at Whakatāne Airport in the span of 10 minutes, 1 NEWS reporter Paul Hobbs says.

11.23am: The level of volcanic tremor has dropped overnight, but is still "very high" compared to before the eruption, GNS says.

Its latest update says steam and hot mud is still bursting from the active vent area, calling the situation still "highly volatile". The alert level remains at 2, which means there's moderate unrest but it's not actively erupting.

Some equipment is covered in ash and may stop functioning over the weekend, but other monitoring equipment is still running.

The likelihood of an eruption will be updated later this morning, volcanologist Craig Miller says.

11.11am: Six of the eight bodies have been successfully recovered and are now on board the HMNZS Wellington, ready to head back to the mainland, police say.

Two remain missing on the island.

Police were able to identify the locations of the six recovered bodies before they headed out on the mission, but the locations of the missing two are still unknown.