New Zealand Defence Force and Police staff today have successfully recovered six bodies from Whakaari / White Island.

Unfortunately, the recovery option is not over as two people remain unaccounted for.  

"We know at least one body is in the water and divers on the Police launch Deodar are currently attempting to recover this body," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a press conference. 

Police launch Deodar in the search area.Photo courtesy of NZDF

"We are making every effort to locate and recover the two remaining deceased.  

The incident has been a harrowing event for the Whakatane community and those family and friends directly impacted by the eruption of Whakaari / White Island on Monday, December 9. 

Two Navy RHIBs (rigid-hull inflatable boats) deploying in the search area. Photo courtesy of NZDF

"The operation today went to plan and we would like to recognise our partners at NZDF who have provided the specialist skills and resources to help us deliver this part of the operation.

The operation was not without risk but thanks to sound planning and the skills of the specialist team involved we have recovered the six bodies.

NZDF personnel on Whakaari/White Island. Photo courtesy of NZDF

"The environment the recovery team faced today was highly unpredictable and challenging.

"They showed absolute courage and commitment to ensure we can offer some closure to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones. 

Google Earth/NZ Police

"Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and we thank Iwi and the local community for their support of the victims of this tragedy."