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Police working to recover 8 bodies

Military specialists on New Zealand’s White Island have recovered six more victims’ bodies after a deadly volcanic eruption, bringing the official death toll in the tragedy to 14.

Two others remain missing and are presumed dead, but Thursday’s recovery mission – an arduous affair for military specialists searching through dangerous hot steam and mud – did not find them.

The effort began Friday morning local time after a blessing was held at sea with representatives of the families of the victims, a statement from New Zealand police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said

The latest number of bodies recovered is current as of 11:11 a.m. local time, according to a police release.

The mission calls for eight specialists to recover the bodies of eight victims. Those believed fatalities are in addition to the official death toll of the eruption, which stands at eight.

The operation is going according to plan but taking longer than expected due to the heavy protective gear worn by the team, a police statement issued Friday at 9:15 a.m. local time says. At that time, the team was near the area where authorities believed most of the bodies were located. 

Previous statements noted the complexity of the mission.

“A lot has to go right for us tomorrow to make this work,” a release from New Zealand police reads.

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