Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell said a major support operation is underway to support the Ovation of the Seas passengers and the families of the White Island victims. Photo / File A_051119gn03bop.JPG

By Sandra Conchie

Passengers on the Ovation of the Seas are receiving counselling on the ship following the White Island eruption.

Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell said passengers and families of the victims
were being supported "100 per cent".

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Powell said he and Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne were standing on the bridge next to the ship's captain today to provide emotional and practical support as part of the city's "major support operation".

"Along with Port of Tauranga personnel we have come together as one team and are doing everything we can to support the victims and their families," he said.

Powell said also on the ship were two people from Victim Support along with a clinical psychologist who spent time with those affected.

Family members were being helped to move around the country to be with their injured loved ones at various hospitals, he said.

At least 31 injured people remained in hospitals last night and the confirmed death toll was five and another eight were missing.

"We are doing everything possible to help the victims," Powell said.

There were 4579 passengers and 1595 crew on the Ovation of the Seas when it docked at the Port of Tauranga yesterday.

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The ship, which has passengers among the dead, injured and missing from the White Island eruption, was scheduled to sail out at 6.15 pm today.

But a Port of Tauranga spokeswoman confirmed the ship will stay due to "police operational" matters.

A Royal Caribbean spokesman said cruise passengers who returned to the ship on Monday remained on board but he was unable to say how many.

Karen McLeay, Victim Support's general manager service delivery, said a dedicated team of at least a dozen highly trained support workers had been deployed in Tauranga and Whakatāne.

"They are on the ground in Whakatāne at the emergency headquarters and the welfare centre at Whakatāne Library.

"They are also assisting the family of Hayden Marshall-Inman, who was the first deceased victim to be named, other locals and affected tourists," McLay said.

"We have support workers in Tauranga stationed at the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship where they're supporting families on board, and at Tauranga Hospital where victims are being treated."

Victim Support also had support workers at other hospitals across New Zealand where other victims were being treated, and more would be deployed tomorrow.

"Our 24-hour contact service is fielding numerous calls from those who witnessed the eruption," McLeay said.

Anyone who needs support can call Victim Support anytime on 0800 842 846.