Dr. Peter Watson, chief medical ofﬁcer of the Counties Manukau District Health Board, New Zealand,told media that 29 patients suffering burns over at least 30% of their bodies when the volcano erupted on White Island are receiving treatment at hospitals in the country.
The majority of patients are very severe. Some have burns covering as much as 90 percent of their bodies. The gases and chemicals from the volcanic eruption complicated burns. An order has been placed with the United States for additional 1.2 million sq cm of skin as well as more wound dressings. But the situation is very difﬁcult and the death toll will increase. Burn injuries are one of the most devastating of all injuries. Damaged skin provides a fertile ground to bacterial growth, together with immunosuppression. A relationship exists between the size of a burn and mortality. Twenty-two of the patients remain on airway support. Some people were stranded on the volcanic island, according to the New Zealand Police, which said there are likely no survivors.
Rescue workers have been unable to return to the island to recover the bodies of those believed to be killed. The conditions are too dangerous and unpredictable. “The environment on the island has changed, with increased volcanic activity since early this morning,” New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said in a statement Wednesday.