HERO rescuers were seen charging towards thick ash-clouds billowing from the deadly White Island volcano after a blast that killed six yesterday, with scores more missing and up to 30 people critically injured.
Footage released by the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust shows the brave rescuers heading right into the chaos, as two, clad in rescue gear shield their eyes from the impenetrable ash clouds.
The rescuers removed five bodies from the island yesterday after the blast around 2 pm.
Cops today confirmed a further sixth person had died, as fears mounted for those in hospital.
It was reported New Zealnds’ burns units were stretched to their limits as they struggled to cope with the victims, 27 of whom had horrific burns to over 70 per cent of their bodies.
Tragically, many of the injured are not expected to survive.
‘NO SIGN OF LIFE’
Rescuers concluded yesterday that anyone missing was feared dead after they combed the island for survivors.
The heroes said there was tragically “no sign of life” after they worked tirelessly in the deathly conditions to remove bodies of the dead from the island and check for survivors.
Unbelievable footage shows two rescuers heading straight into the clouds of smoke as they’re dropped off via helicopter.
One paramedic likened the shocking scenes to the TV series documenting horrific Russian nuclear disaster, Chernobyl.
He said it was a “shocking experience” and “everything was just blanketed in ash.”
And the incredible efforts of the responders saw the injured hurried into emergency vehicles and whisked away to hospital for emergency treatment.
Despite the shocking toll of injured and dead, four people have been discharged from hospitals – receiving treatment in time thanks to the bravery of the rescuers.
New Zealand’s PM, Jacinda Ardern today praised those involved in the rescue mission.
She said: “As a result of their efforts, a number of people were rescued from the island,” hailing the teams as “courageous.”
It is reported that among the injured are two British women, 24 Australians, five New-Zealanders, two Chinese tourists and one Malaysian tourist.
The UK High Commissioner to New Zealand, Laura Clarke, confirmed that two of the 31 people still in hospital are from Britain. It was not clear if more British tourists had been affected.
“We are supporting the family of two British women who have been hospitalised in New Zealand,” Ms Clarke tweeted.
The injured have been admitted to eight hospitals in the area, health officials said. Media reports said plastic surgeons had been called in from several private practices to help hospitals treat the many people severely burnt in the eruption.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 11 Australians were unaccounted for, with 13 in hospital.
New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden said New Zealanders and tourists from the United States, China, Britain and Malaysia were also affected.
White Island, also known by the indigenous Maori name Whakaari, is the tip of an undersea volcano 30 miles off the coast.
Scientists had noted an increase in volcanic activity in recent weeks, leading to questions as to why tourists were still being allowed on the island.
New Zealand’s GeoNet seismic monitoring agency had raised the volcano’s alert level on November 18 from one to two on a scale where five represents a major eruption.