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What’s on RNZ News at midday – Dec 11

The police are not ruling out starting the recovery operation today for eight people missing after the Whakaari / White Island eruption but say safety comes first; and the Head of Oranga Tamariki has told MPs she is profoundly sorry for how staff tried to remove a newborn baby in Hastings. 

1.The police are not ruling out starting the recovery operation today for eight people missing after the Whakaari / White Island eruption but say safety comes first. The death toll is now six after one person died in Middlemore Hospital last night while 30 patients remain in six hospitals around the country, 25 of them are in a critical condition.     

2.Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall has declared the Whakaari / White Island eruption as a mass fatality incident and three coroners in Auckland will begin working on the identification of the victims of the disaster.She’s also declared the disaster a mass fatality incident which has triggered a coordinated response by a number of agencies including Police, ESR, Forensic Scientists and Pathologists.         

3.A young woman who helped rescue critically injured tourists from Whakaari says their bodies were covered in severe blisters and burns. Lillani Hopkins and her father Geoff visited the volcano earlier in the day and had just boarded their boat back to Whakatane when it erupted.     

4.Almost all of those hurt have burns to 30 percent of their bodies and the Burn Victims Support Group says those survivors are at the beginning of a very long physical, emotional and psychological journey. Michele Henry says many burned survivors are isolated and its important for others to show them empathy.         

5.A helicopter pilot who rescued five of the Whakaari / White Island injured has described how the people lying in the crater covered in ash were crying out for help as he carried them to his helicopter. Mark Law, owner of Kāhu NZ which operates helicopters in eastern Bay of Plenty as well as tourism over White Island, was one of the pilots who flew onto the crater floor to save people after the eruption.

6.GNS Science says volcanic activity on Whakaari / White Island has increased significantly today. The volcanic alert level remains at three out of five and the aviation code remains at orange, indicating an eruption is taking place with little or no ash.   

7.A Whakatāne business owner is backing continuing trips to Whakaari / White Island and says adventure tourism comes with risks. Brent Smith runs Whakatāne Great Outdoors and says the island is a big attraction for many of his customers.

8.The Head of Oranga Tamariki has told MPs she is profoundly sorry for how staff tried to remove a newborn baby in Hastings. Grainne Moss appeared before a Select Committee today to discuss Oranga Tamariki’s annual review. In May, Ministry staff tried to take a six-day-old from his mother at Hawkes Bay Hospital.

9.South Canterbury residents from 115 evacuated properties will be able to go home today. Heavy rain swamped the region over the weekend causing the Rangitata River to breach its banks and flood nearby properties.

10. New research into mental health and addiction services has found that maori have the highest prevalence of mental illness than any group. The monitoring and advocacy report tracked the progress made over a five year period in 2018.

11.The President of Kiribati Taneti Maamau says the world is not doing enough to address climate change which posses an existential threat to his country. 

12.The Greenland ice sheet’s losses have accelerated so fast since the 1990s it is now shedding more than seven times as much ice each year, according to 89 scientists who use satellites to study the area.

13.Thick smoke from a blaze on Te Pane-o-Mataaho/Māngere Mountain in South Auckland travelled kilometres from the scene, firefighters and residents say.The blaze on Te Pane-o-Mataaho/Māngere Mountain started just before 2am and covered an area of 1.6 hectares.

14.  Australia’s bushfires have caused unprecedented carbon monoxide levels as far away as Central Otago.  Researchers at NIWA’s Lauder atmospheric research station say high levels of the poisonous gas has been detected just above group for several weeks, at two and a half times above the usual level. 

15.The Democratic-controlled US House Judiciary Committee has unveiled charges against President Donald Trump, a key move in impeaching him.The first article revealed by committee chief Jerry Nadler accuses Trump of abuse of power and the second accuses him of obstructing Congress.
 

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