Half of the 47 visitors on the island when the volcano erupted were Australians and most were from a cruise ship.
New Zealand officials have a "much clearer and nearly complete picture" of the condition of all 47 people, including the 24 Australians, caught up in Monday's volcanic eruption on Whakaari. Five are confirmed dead and eight are missing presumed dead.
At least 30 people were being treated for injuries at hospitals throughout the country, including 25 in critical condition.
Police have began an investigation into the tragedy, with phrases of reference to be developed in coming days. They corrected an earlier statement that a criminal investigation would be launched, saying it was "too early to confirm" whether that would happen.
Thick smoke from the volcanic eruption on Whakaari, also known as White Island, in New Zealand, December 9, 2019.
Police want to deploy drones to measure toxic gas levels in the island's atmosphere and determine whether it is safe to return, but windy conditions have so far prevented them from being flown. Of those, 24 were Australians who had been visiting the island.
Among those caught on the island during the sudden blast were tourists from Australia, the United States, Britain, China, Germany and Malaysia, as well as local tour guides. Tims was unable to specify the nationalities of the deceased and lacking at this stage.
"These questions must be asked and they must be answered", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Parliament.
Aerial surveillance has detected no signs of life on the island, where at least one tour group was captured on automated webcams in the crater just a minute before the eruption.
Yet this "superhuman effort" was unsurprising to Mr Pollock, who said Mr Kingi had previously taken control in bad situations. "In their immediate efforts to get people off the island, those pilots made an incredibly fearless decision under extremely risky circumstances". Three Australians were suspected to be among the initial five confirmed dead, he told reporters in Sydney. The others are either in hospital or remain unaccounted for.
But helicopter pilot Mark Law said the delay was hard to understand and that if he was making the decision, he would leave immediately.
A letter provided to passengers on Ovation of the Seas cruise ship that was delayed by the White Island volcano eruption.
Operator Royal Caribbean confirmed some of its guests were touring the island and said it was working with authorities in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The eruption created an ash plume some three.6 kilometers excessive, authorities company GeoNet stated.
Many people were questioning why tourists were allowed to visit the island after seismic monitoring experts raised the volcano's alert level last month.
White Island is a popular tourist destination with frequent day tours and scenic flights available. "It was not so long ago they were celebrating an 85th birthday, they were thrilled they were embarking on a cruise, and now the festive season. this will be one of deep poignancy for the family". The most recent tragedy follows a devastating natural disaster within the South Island metropolis of Christchurch in 2011 that killed 185 individuals.