Toxic gas and the threat of further eruptions are thwarting efforts to recover the bodies of eight people presumed dead from New Zealand's White Island volcano, as authorities launch a criminal investigation into the disaster.
Mr Tims said strong winds were preventing police from launching a drone to measure gas levels around the volcano before any attempts were made to retrieve the bodies.
Mr Tims said there had been 47 people on White Island when it erupted at 2.11pm local time on Monday afternoon, many of them visiting as a part of cruise around New Zealand on board the Ovation of Seas.
The New Zealand health service's Peter Watson said of the 31 people injured, 25 of them were in burns units, which were operating at capacity.
New Zealand burns units have been stretched by the White Island Volcano disaster.