The death toll from the New Zealand volcano eruption has risen to eight after two victims died in hospital.
Nine people are officially still missing, presumed dead, with efforts to retrieve bodies from the island still on hold.
The volcano on White Island is “highly volatile” and could erupt again within days preventing recovery teams retrieving bodies, said authorities.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “I’ve spoken to many of those involved in the operation and they are very, very eager to get back there, they want to bring people’s loved ones home.”
The volcano, a popular tourist day-tripper destination, erupted on Monday, spewing ash and steam over the island.
“We are now living with a growing sense of desperation to bring home those that we know are there and those we love,” Whakatane Mayor Judy Turner told reporters.
“The frustration of those families most affected is completely understandable. No news is not good news for people in this situation.”
There were 47 people on the island, also known by its Maori name Whakaari, at the time of the eruption. Twenty-four of those were from Australia, nine from the United States, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two each from China and Britain and one from Malaysia.
Nico Fournier, a volcanologist at New Zealand’s geological science agency GNS Science, said monitoring equipment still active on the island put the risk of a further eruption over the next 24 hours at 50 per cent to 60 per cent.
“We believe that there is shallow magma, the molten rocks, which is driving the activity under the surface … which is the level of tremor that is increasing, and it keeps increasing as we speak as well,” Fournier told reporters.
“The consequence of those processes is that the situation remains highly volatile,” he said.
In the event of another eruption, anybody on the island could be “pummelled to death” by flying rocks or overcome by ash and gases in temperatures exceeding hundreds of degrees celsius, Fournier said.
New Zealand Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said the risk of both another eruption and toxic gases were simply too great on Thursday to expose recovery teams, although the situation was being constantly reviewed.
Police later said they were finalising plans to recover bodies on Friday morning.