New Zealand volcano vents steam, delays recovery of bodies

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By NICK PERRY, Associated Press

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand volcano is venting more steam and mud after a deadly eruption two days ago. Scientists say volcanic tremors are rising, too, and another eruption at White Island is possible in the next 24 hours.

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Six people were confirmed dead in Monday’s eruption, but the increased volcanic activity is delaying the retrieval of eight other bodies believed to remain on the island.

Rescuer Lillani Hopkins, a 22-year-old student who has studied volcanoes, described the harrowing time she spent helping those badly burned after the eruption. She had taken her dad, Geoff, a pastor, to White Island for a 50th birthday present.

When the volcano erupted, Hopkins had never seen anything like it: welts and burns that covered every inch of exposed skin, people’s faces coated in gray paste, their eyes covered so they couldn’t see, their tongues thickened so they couldn’t talk.

When they finally got back to shore, Hopkins says all 23 of those she helped were still breathing. But she hasn’t had any contact with them since and doesn’t know if they all survived.

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