PM: 'No limit' to NZ's capacity to embrace those impacted by tragedy

Author
Boris Jancic and Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Dec 2019, 3:53PM

PM: 'No limit' to NZ's capacity to embrace those impacted by tragedy

Author
Boris Jancic and Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Dec 2019, 3:53PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delivered an official statement to Parliament, telling MPs there was "no limit" to New Zealand's capacity to embrace those impacted by tragedy.

"The scale of this tragedy is devastating," she said this afternoon, of the eruption on White Island.

She revealed that those injured or missing included those from Australia, the US, UK, China, Germany, Malaysia as well as New Zealand.

"We share in your grief and sorry and are devastated," she said of the countries with people impacted by the tragedy.

"We will do everything to support you as you have supported us in times of [the] past."

Officials have confirmed that five people have died and there are eight people missing.

Speaking to media before going into the House the afternoon, Ardern said she had spoken to one of the helicopter pilots who was on the island in the immediate aftermath.

"He confirmed that, tragically, everyone who was alive and survived was taken off the island – that is absolutely tragic."

She confirmed that what happens next, will be a recovery mission.

"All of the information provided to the police from those operators who were on the ground pulling survivors off the ground was that there was no one left to rescue.

Back in the House, Ardern said no signs of life had been detected despite a number of air sweeps over the island.

"Those pilots made an incredibly brave decision under dangerous circumstances.

"I'm sure all of this House would wish to pay tribute to them."

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters confirmed that and said the Government was writing to the countries of those impacted by the eruption "as we speak".

He said Australia and the whole of the European Union have offered their support.

"But the nature of that, if it's something we will use, is a very good question because we think we have the resources that are required."

He would not say what that support was – "what they have said was, 'we can possibly help, give us a call'".

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said it was too soon to say what sort of financial assistance the Government would provide.