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New Zealand volcano: Minute’s silence marks one week after eruption

Source BBC

A minute’s silence has been observed in New Zealand, marking one week since the deadly eruption of White Island volcano.

The tribute was held at 14:11 local time (01:11 GMT), the exact moment of the eruption.

Sixteen deaths have been confirmed while two bodies are still missing, believed to be in the water off the island.

About 20 people remain in intensive care with severe burns.

On Sunday, teams returned to White Island, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, and divers searched the water but, again, we’re unable to locate the missing bodies.

This is a difficult and ongoing task,” Deputy Commissioner John Tims said in a statement, adding that police remained committed to retrieving the bodies.

On Instagram, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to “many people who did extraordinary things to save lives”, saying: “Those who have been lost are now forever linked to New Zealand, and we will hold them close.”

Ms Ardern, who visited some of the first responders last week, marked the minute’s silence during her cabinet’s weekly meeting.

What about the identification of the victims?

The identification process is being carried out in Auckland by experts including a pathologist, a forensic dentist and a fingerprint officer.

The first victim officially named was Krystal Eve Browitt, a 21-year-old Australian from Melbourne who was visiting the island with her family.

Police are gathering information about possible victims, such as descriptions of appearance, clothing, photos, fingerprints, medical and dental records and DNA samples.

These details will then be matched to the evidence gathered in the post-mortem examination.

Out of the 47 people on the island when the eruption happened, 24 were from Australia, nine from the US, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from China, two from the UK, and one from Malaysia.

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