Today is another difficult day for those involved in the White Island volcano disaster in New Zealand, for people who remain in hospital and families who have received the most devastating of news, and those still enduring the agony of awaiting news of their loved ones.
Our hearts go out to all of the Australians and their families caught up in this tragedy, and our Kiwi cousins across the Tasman.
This is a time of immense grief and great sorrow for everyone involved.
Together with the New Zealand Government, and relevant authorities, we are doing everything we can to assist those directly impacted and their families.
The Government has activated a repatriation plan to bring a number of Australians injured in the White Island volcano tragedy from New Zealand to Australia for specialist medical care.
This plan has been formed following the Australian Government’s offer of assistance to New Zealand to support its response to the tragic events at White Island.
Australian and New Zealand authorities are working closely together to enable the repatriations.
We anticipate transferring up to 10 injured patients to New South Wales and Victoria, starting within the next 24 hours. Any transfers will depend strictly on medical decisions from doctors that it is safe to move the patients.
Our focus, and that of the New Zealand Government, is on providing the best, most immediate clinical care for those most in need. The plan also requires significant contributions from State Government agencies, for which we are immensely grateful.
Three Royal Australian Air Force aircraft have been deployed to New Zealand as part of the repatriation effort.
A C-130 Hercules departed RAAF Base Richmond and two C-17 Globemasters departed RAAF Base Amberley to Christchurch, with a team of specialist aircrew and medical equipment on board.
The NSW, Victorian, Queensland and South Australian Governments have also provided aircraft.
Emergency Management Australia has coordinated the repatriation effort at the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Defence, Australian Border Force, the Department of Health, and the Australian Federal Police are also to be thanked for their efforts.
At this stage the Government is still not in a position to officially confirm the identity and status of those Australians who are unaccounted for and those who are deceased. As always we will act in accordance with the wishes of family members and seek to protect their privacy in this most difficult time.