"Along with all New Zealanders we are deeply distressed and saddened by the tragedy of the volcanic eruption at Whakaari/White Island," says Bishop Patrick Dunn, Catholic Bishop of Auckland and President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference.
"Our prayers are for those whose lives have been lost, and for the injured, conscious that their injuries are of a most serious and painful nature.
"We cannot begin to imagine the grief and distress that they and their families and friends will be experiencing at this time and our hearts go out to them. We offer our heartfelt and prayerful thoughts to everyone affected by this disaster, our own people and tourists and visitors from Australia and several other countries. We give thanks to God for the generous assistance of the people who have assisted and aided the injured, especially those who took grave risks to rescue them, and for the support and care that is being given to their grieving families."
Eight people are confirmed dead after the eruption on the island on Monday, and another eight are missing, presumed dead.
Police have not returned to the island to retrieve any bodies there as it has been deemed too dangerous. The latest reports says they are finalising plans to recover the bodies from Whakaari / White Island on Friday morning.
- NZ Catholic Bishops statement on Whakaari White Island tragedy
- The day Whakaari/White Island Erupted: A Timeline
Checked photo timestamps. Last photo from me standing on the land was 13:49; this first photo of the eruption was 14:12, about a minute or two into the eruption. pic.twitter.com/hyqQuO4vNq— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019