Heartbroken brother's desperate request
The heartbroken brother of one of the White Island volcano victims has written to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern requesting to stage his own recovery operation of his sibling's body.
Mark Inman's brother Hayden Marshall-Inman was the first victim named from the horrific eruption at White Island that has also killed seven other Australians, with ten others missing or feared dead.
Mr Marshall-Inman worked as a tour guide on the island and was described by locals as an "energetic young man" and valued member of the community who would regularly leave $5 at the local shop for those who needed it to afford groceries.
Mark Inman met NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following the disaster and later sent her office an email asking to stage his own recovery of his brother's body. New Zealand police say conditions are too dangerous for emergency services to access the island at present.
"We met yesterday concerning my brother Hayden who is still on White Island 44 hours after the explosions," he wrote, in an email shared with New Zealand's version of The Project.
"With the current conditions of sunshine baking and decomposing his body, he's going from a situation where we could have an open casket to now more likely not having a body at all - due to your government's red tape and slow decision making."
"I am writing to ask for a pardon for my actions of a personal recovery."
Staff from Ms Ardern's office said the message was passed to police minister Stuart Nash, writing: "It must be an incredibly tough time for you and your whanau (family). We have passed your email to the Minister of Police's office who will be in touch with you about the situation very soon."
However on Wednesday evening Mr Nash said the request had been denied because of safety concerns.
"The last thing we want to do is to have further casualties in what is already a significant tragedy," Nash said without mentioning Mr Inman by name.
"We won't give anyone permission to go to the island, we need to understand the risk then we can work to mitigate the chances of anyone else being injured in this.
"The last thing we want to do is for people to risk their lives to go out to the island."
He said the request was "foolhardy, but I understand, out of frustration when in fact all they will be doing is putting themselves in greater harm."
New Zealand authorities have agreed questions must be answered in the wake of the disaster including why tourists were allowed to visit the island when the alert level had been raised from one to two in recent weeks. However for now, Mr Nash said the priority remains victim recovery and identification.
"This is not business as usual, we need to understand the risk so we can mitigate the risk of any further fatalities."
Mr Inman told The Project that a pilot had seen his brother's body and moved it onto a rise on the island. It's believed he was referring to Tom Storey, who had previously described the pain of having to make his friend comfortable and leave his body behind.
"We all know health and safety is important, but when health and safety starts to become a barrier to retrieval, that's when you get frustrated," Mr Inman said.