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Defence supports White Island effort

The New Zealand Defence Force has provided specialist contingency support to the continuing Whakaari/White Island recovery effort.

Commander of Joint Forces New Zealand, Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour (pictured) said this included provision of two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) with members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squadron and medics on board.

“The EOD members and crew from HMNZS Wellington are on standby to assist if required,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.

“A Seasprite helicopter is also on location to assist with transportation to Whakatane,” he said.

“Our personnel have been providing advice and assistance to New Zealand Police in the ongoing recovery operation.”

He said that most recently, nine Navy divers had joined the search for the two missing deceased persons and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3–2K Orion had carried out another surveillance flight over coastline and sea.

“The New Zealand Defence Force continues to stand by to assist as requested by NZ Police as the search for the missing two deceased persons continues,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.

Meanwhile, a volcanologist from GeoNet — New Zealand’s geological hazard information authority — said that operations on the heavily toxic island must be  brief due to the air toxicity.