"I can confirm now that we will commence a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the death and injuries on White Island,"

NZ Police launch investigation into volcano deaths

THE New Zealand Police have launched a investigation following the deadly eruption on White Island.

Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the investigation would run parallel to the one being carried out by WorkSafe

However, later in the afternoon New Zealand police released a statement saying there was no "criminal investigation" at this stage.

"To correct an earlier statement, it is too early to confirm whether there will also be a criminal investigation," the statement read.

Deputy Commissioner Tims said the investigation will focus on finding out if anyone was criminally responsible for the deaths and injuries.

"It's early days yet. So we're just going to have to work through the evidence, talk to people, and conduct the investigation." he said.

The nationalities of the 47 people on board the island at the time of the eruption have been confirmed, with 24 of the people found to be from Australia.

Deputy Commissioner Tims also said the bodies of the five victims have been transported to Auckland for a most-mortem examination.

There are still eight people missing and presumed dead, with arrangements being made to retrieve them from the island.

"We're doing everything we possibly can. We know the importance of recovering the bodies to the families and friends. So we're working really hard in that space. We are working through with the scientific experts to ensure that it is safe for us to return," Deputy Commissioner Tim said.

"We're unsure what the state of the bodies will be in."

When asked if some of the missing could still be alive he said he would "strongly suggest no-one has survived on the island".

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