New Zealand divers search for volcano victims; death toll rises to 15
By Will Ziebell WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand divers searched contaminated waters near the volcanic White Island for two remaining bodies on Saturday, as the death toll from an eruption rose to 15 people, the police said. Waters around the island were contaminated by the massive eruption of rocks, lava and chemicals on Monday, reducing visibility.
By Will Ziebell
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand divers searched contaminated waters near the volcanic White Island for two remaining bodies on Saturday, as the death toll from an eruption rose to 15 people, the police said.
Waters around the island were contaminated by the massive eruption of rocks, lava and chemicals on Monday, reducing visibility.
"Divers have reported seeing a number of dead fish and eels washed ashore and floating in the water," police said in a statement. "Each time they surface, the divers are decontaminated using fresh water."
The remains of six people were successfully recovered on Friday after a military team in gas masks and hazmat suits landed on the uninhabited island and removed the bodies in a high-risk operation.
Police said they could not retrieve the remains of two more people, but spotted at least one body in the waters not too far from the island shoreline.
Nine police dive squad members resumed their search at 7.00 a.m. local time (1800 GMT Friday) and the operation would be boosted by a navy dive team later in the day.
The police said in an earlier statement they will not return to the island for a land-based search on Saturday, but will return in the future.
"Today's planning will allow us to return to the island to conduct further land-based searches for the remaining deceased, as the environment on and around the island allows," police said. "There will be no return to the island today."
In a statement released on Saturday, geological agency GeoNet said there was a 35% to 50% risk of an eruption that would impact beyond the volcano’s vent area in the next 24 hours. A decrease from the 50% and 60% risk announced on Friday.
The volcano, a popular tourist destination for day-trippers, erupted on Monday, spewing ash, steam and gases over the island. Among the 47 people on the island at the time were Australian, U.S., German, Chinese, British and Malaysian tourists.
The death toll rose to 15 on Saturday as one more person died in the hospital. The toll may rise further as more than two dozen people are still hospitalised across New Zealand and Australia, most with severe burn injuries.
There has been criticism that tourists were allowed on the island at all, given signs of increasing tremor activity in the days before the eruption.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Saturday that a minute’s silence will be observed at 2.11 p.m. local time (0111GMT) on December 16, exactly one week from when the fatal eruption occurred.
“Wherever you are in New Zealand, or around the world, this is a moment we can stand alongside those who have lost loved ones in this extraordinary tragedy,” Ardern said in the statement.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon in Wellington and Will Ziebell in Melbourne, Editing by Michael Perry and Gerry Doyle)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
By Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration plans to return Cuba to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday, a move that could complicate any efforts by the incoming Biden administration to revive Obama-era detente with Havana.
JAKARTA (Reuters) - An investigator with Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said the Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea with 62 people on board over the weekend possibly broke apart when it hit waters based on debris found so far. "We don't know for sure, but if we look at the debris, they're scattered in an area that is not too wide," Nurcahyo Utomo told Reuters on Monday. "It possibly ruptured when it hit waters because if it had exploded midair, the debris would be distributed more widely," he added
By Aziz El Yaakoubi, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick RIYADH/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States plans to designate Yemen's Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization, three sources familiar with the matter said, a move that diplomats and aid groups worry could threaten peace talks and complicate efforts to combat the world's largest humanitarian crisis. The decision to blacklist the Iran-aligned group, which could be announced as soon as Monday according to two of the sources, comes as the administration of President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take over from the Trump administration on Jan. 20