Six bodies have on Friday been recovered from the volcanic island that erupted days ago by a New Zealand military team in gas masks and hazmat suits.
In a recovery operation that was launched on Friday despite threats of another eruption after a volcano erupted on Monday killing 16 in which eight persons were confirmed dead, elite soldiers retrieved six of the other eight bodies from the volatile White Island volcano.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters in Whakatane, some 50 km (30 miles) west of the island “It’s not over yet.”
Police said dive teams deployed in the waters around the island, which is also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, had not found anything adding that the search for the two remaining bodies will continue on Saturday.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern told a media conference in Whakatane, the mainland coastal town where about 100 family and local community members prayed and sang together “today was all about returning them to their loved ones,” she said questions over why people were allowed to visit the active volcano “must be answered, and will be answered”.
But she said “we also need to respect the phase we’re in now, with families only just getting their loved ones back”.
More than two dozen more people are in hospitals across New Zealand and Australia, most with severe burn injuries.
However, volcanologists warned that if the volcano erupted while the rescue team are on the island, the team could face magma, superheated steam, ash and rocks thrown at high speed.
Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert
Protesters in Belarus are still angry in their sixth week of mass protests demanding the resignation of president Alexander Lukashenko.
The president has announced, in retaliation, he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania. He also said the Belarusian border with Ukraine would be strengthened.
Lukashenko insists the six weeks of protests are driven by the west. He faces increasing criticism from the united states and the European Union.
Demonstrations began after the disputed august presidential election official results gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office–results opponents say were manipulated.
Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race
Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has withdrawn from next month’s presidential election, saying she’s withdrawing in the interest of the party.
Anez, a former conservative senator, took office during the power vacuum that followed former president Morales’s departure after allegations of irregularities in last year’s election. Those allegations fueled violent protests, and army pressure forced the country’s first indigenous president into exile in Mexico.
Anez says if she does not step down, Morales would possibly return to power.
She declined to name the candidate for whom she will vote.
Next month’s election is the delayed rerun of last year’s ballot. Anez’s candidacy had sparked controversy after she initially ruled herself out and pledged to guide the country to transparent new elections.
By pulling out of the race, analysts say Anez could increase chances that the election will be pushed to a second round by consolidating the anti-Arce vote.
To avoid a second round, the election winner requires at least 40 percent of valid votes in the first round and a 10-point advantage over the closest competitor.
First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks
New Zealand for the first time in more than five weeks has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus amid efforts to stamp out an outbreak discovered in Auckland last month ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission.
The South Pacific nation with its population of five million has reported more than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 and 25 fatalities.
The report on Friday also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travellers returning from abroad.
Following strict measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which were widely praised, New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades after the country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June as the lockdown and border closures hit.
Auckland lockdown began on 12 August after four cases were detected in the city of 1.5 million.
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