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Adelaide mum found alive in hospital, as White Island death toll rises to six, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP

1. Adelaide mum found alive in hospital, as White Island death toll rises to six.

The death toll for New Zealand’s volcano disaster has risen to six people, with another eight presumed dead after they were unable to escape White Island.

Police have stated their primary objective is to return the bodies from the island to their families and they are waiting for the environment to be stable enough to visit Whakaari for the retrieval operation.

Of the six dead, Foreign Minister Marise Payne says she believes three of them are Australian.

Earlier, an Adelaide mother feared missing was found alive in a hospital in Hamilton with severe burns.

Lisa Dallow was on a two-week Ovation of the Seas cruise with her husband, Gavin Dallow, and her daughter, Zoe Hosking, when the volcano on White Island erupted. Her husband and daughter remain missing.

“We feel for all the families who are going through the same frustration and fear for loved ones as we are,” a family spokesperson said.

white island new zealand volcano
Image AAP.

A total of 47 tourists were on the island when the volcano erupted.

Authorities have scotched the notion those left on the island could be saved, saying they believed "anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation".

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Paramedic Rusty Clarke was on board a helicopter that flew to White Island on a rescue mission shortly after the eruption. He likened the ashened landscape he saw to that of a nuclear explosion.

"Looking down on it, I would have to describe it as Chernobyl," he told Radio NZ.

"It was just a complete, absolute whiteout of the area involved.

"It was quite a daunting experience seeing that initial landscape."

Clarke said first responders often took a mental hit from their efforts.

"It becomes pretty overwhelming emotionally pretty quickly. When you combine the potential for injury and loss of life, it's quite an ordeal," he said.

"We've got a job to do. But we're all family.

"You can't help feel empathy and just the sheer magnitude of it."

While the emergency began on White Island, the focus quickly shifted to nearby Whakatane as the base for the rescue and support operation.

By Tuesday, the load had been shared across a string of hospitals.

Kiwi officials made the decision to airlift at least 31 injured across the country, ensuring each patient could be seen by specialists within burns units as far away as Christchurch.

The dispersal has complicated the identification process and the communication of those names to the public.

NZ police have committed to releasing more information as soon as they can.

"We are working to confirm the identities of those involved... the nature of the injuries that people have suffered is severe and (that) means identifying them is a complex matter," a statement read.

"We are working through the process to identify them as quickly as possible, to return those who have died to their loved ones."

2. Sydney air quality 11 times the hazardous level, due to bushfire smoke.

Smoke across parts of the Sydney basin is so thick that air pollution has been deemed 11 times worse than the typical "hazardous" level.

Medical experts, meanwhile, have deemed the air quality in Sydney among the worst on record.

Bushfires ringing the harbour city - including in the Hawkesbury region and near Warragamba Dam - caused a thick blanket of smoke to settle in the city basin.

Ferries were cancelled in Sydney on Tuesday due to the smoke haze while Sydney Trains warned the fire alarms at train stations may be triggered.

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Numerous CBD offices - including Sydney's law courts - were evacuated due to smoke.

The Rural Fire Service headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park was also briefly evacuated due to heavy smoke in the area setting off alarms.

NSW Fire and Rescue assistant commissioner Roger Mentha said his teams had responded to more than 500 automatic fire alarms caused by smoke entering buildings.

"This amount of calls peaked between 11am and 12 midday with 154 automatic alarms, as a result there's also been over 335 triple-zero emergency calls," he told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Mentha said the volume of calls was unprecedented and had increased as the smoke cloud "descended on the city".

He's urging those whose alarms are triggered by actual fires to call triple zero and alert authorities that theirs is a real emergency.

"Resources are stretched, but they're being prioritised," he said.

The NSW environmental department on Tuesday afternoon reported the air quality index in Sydney's east and northwest was more than 11 times worse than the prescribed "hazardous" level.

The AQI provides a general indication of air pollution including visibility levels and the prevalence of particles in the air.

Sydney's southwest, meanwhile, was more than five times worse than the "hazardous" level of 200 AQI.

Those with heart and lung issues have been told to avoid all outdoor physical activity, while all people in Sydney should limit their time outdoors.

NSW Health's Richard Broome says the consistently smoky conditions affecting Sydney over the past month are unprecedented.

Young people and the elderly were particularly at risk.

"The smoke here in Sydney is extremely bad today, it is some of the worst air quality we've seen," Dr Broome told reporters on Tuesday.

"We are just urging people once again to take these (conditions) seriously. If you have a heart or lung condition, it is really important to spend as much time indoors while these conditions last."

NSW Ambulance Superintendent Brent Armitage said his organisation was attending up to 100 respiratory-related call-outs per day.

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3. New Zealand's volcano eruption was "a disaster waiting to happen".

New Zealand's deadly volcano eruption was "a disaster waiting to happen", with an expert saying the tourists who walked into the crater were trapped.

While Monash University Emeritus Professor Ray Cas said there was nothing wrong with the warnings given about White Island, he was sharply critical of the access for tourists.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," he said in a statement from Scimex.

He also spoke of the dangers for anyone in the crater when the volcano erupted.

"The people were actually inside the crater, right adjacent to the vents of the volcano - that's the issue," he told the ABC on Tuesday.

"They are in this very confined space and when the event occurs there is actually nowhere to go.

"There would have been huge blocks of rock flying at ballistic speeds, a lot of ash and gas released making visibility zero, so people would not have known where to go."

The professor said hot rock debris and crater waters would have severely burned the people caught in the eruption.

NZ experts said on Tuesday the volcano was on the second-highest alert level before the eruption, given monitoring indicators had increased.

"The scientists got it right and it was just really unfortunate timing," Professor Cas said.

"You have a confluence of many volcanic acids within this very confined space making it very difficult to go anywhere if an event does occur."

A "highly volatile environment" remains for the next 24 hours with a 50-50 chance of another eruption, GNS Science volcanologist Graham Leonard said.

"Over the next 24 hours, we estimate there is a 50 per cent chance of a smaller or similar sized eruption, and therefore a 50 per cent chance of no eruption," the NZ expert told reporters.

"We estimate a larger eruption is unlikely. However this is a highly volatile environment and any predictions have to be seen in that context."

The institute had put out volcanic alert bulletins indicating the volcano was more active and there was an increased likelihood of eruption.

It appears hot water and the steam destabilisation caused the eruption, Mr Leonard said.

Authorities have collected carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide samples from the site to work out what might happen next.

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4. NSW firefighters have "nothing in the tank", warns ex fire chief.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he's confident Australia's "standing volunteer force" is capable of seeing off an unprecedented bushfire season but a former fire chief says many are already on their knees.

Former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins voiced his fears for the welfare of volunteers on Tuesday afternoon while himself on the way to fight a blaze at Mangrove Mountain on the state's Central Coast.

An emergency warning was issued for the fire after 1pm as almost 3000 firies battled more than 80 bushfires across NSW, with half of them uncontained.

Mr Mullins said crews were working 12-hour shifts and with many travelling two hours each way to reach fire grounds, meaning they faced 16 hour days.

"Everyone is getting pretty worn out and, in my experience, that's where all the bad stuff happens," he told AAP.

"The troops, if they're worn out, you get to a stage where it just overwhelms everyone, so that's a worry."

Mr Mullins - who was the FRNSW boss from 2003 to 2017 - said early in the season firefighters were full of energy but as the weeks and months dragged on they reached a point of having "nothing in the tank".

"I'm buggered ... and I haven't done as many (shifts) as some people," he said.

"People will step up. Firefighters - they are men and women who give their all - they will do whatever is asked of them and more but I do fear for their welfare."

Mr Morrison meanwhile held a press conference in a Sydney skyscraper on Tuesday with smoke obscuring the harbour views.

He praised the efforts of volunteers battling blazes across the country.

"I was speaking with the (NSW RFS) commissioner on the weekend out at Wilberforce - where we have the megafire out in the northwest at the moment - we were talking through the crew rotations and the fact is that these crews, yes they're tired, but they also want to be out there defending their communities," he told reporters.

"We do all we can to rotate the shifts to give them those breaks but equally, in many cases, you've got to hold them back to make sure they get that rest. I thank them all for what they're doing."

The prime minister dismissed the idea of paying volunteer firefighters.

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"We are constantly looking at ways we can better facilitate the volunteer effort but to professionalise that, at that scale, is not a matter that has previously been accepted and is not a matter that's currently under consideration by the government," he said.

Mr Mullins said as the bushfire season continued and volunteers kept requesting time off work their employers would start saying: "Hey we've got a business to run."

Agencies such as Fire and Rescue NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service had a limited pool of people to call on and "they'll all be feeling the same thing", the ex-fire chief said.

5. Adani protestors glue themselves to building.

Protesters opposed to mining giant Adani have glued themselves to the headquarters of a Melbourne railway company.

About 20 people rallied at Siemens Mobility on Tuesday, demanding it refuse to build Adani's Carmichael Rail Project in Queensland.

Police attended as the protesters spray-painted slogans on the Port Melbourne business' windows.

Daniel Bleakley of the activist group Galilee Blockade, who organised the protest, said the situation between police and protesters was "very respectful."

Mr Bleakley was himself glued to the building and said it was important to stand up to big businesses.

"We have to fight these companies who are continuing to do the wrong thing," he told 3AW.

Mr Bleakley said nobody from Siemens had spoken with protesters.

He added a meeting had been arranged between Galilee Blockade and Siemens, but claimed the company cancelled the discussions.

A Siemens representative said discussions via phone had been agreed to, but after Galilee Blockade "illegally trespassed" and published personal information about some of its employees, the company no longer wanted to engage with the group.

The spokesperson said what dialogue had taken place between the two parties was "not a discussion, just a series of demands".

The activist group claims Siemens is preparing to sign a $31 million signalling contract with the mining giant by Friday.

Feature Image: Facebook.


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