White Island eruption: Hero pilot Mark Law says conditions perfect to return

A hero pilot who rescued people in the immediate aftermath of the White Island eruption says conditions are right to return.

Mark Law was one of the many selfless Kiwis who rushed to help dozens of people who were severely burned.

Emergency services are still assessing conditions on the island to launch a recovery operation.

But Law says they could leave now.

"In actual fact the last two days have probably been the best conditions to go there," he told The AM Show. "The immediate danger is not there - it would be a really easy job.

"It's 20 minutes to get out there - we could get those folks on and be back here."

Law said he wants to get out to the island.

"We were there within, I think, an hour of the eruption going off and I'm still here standing.

"It comes down to a call - a conscious call - and a bit of individual responsibility."

Police Minister Stuart Nash has defended the response, telling The AM Show he was "absolutely confident" everything had been done to land on the island.

Nash. Photo credit: Newshub.

"GNS said there's a 50 percent chance of another eruption."

Nash hailed Law and the other pilots as heroes, but remains adamant it's not safe to return.

"When you look at the island it may seem safe just viewing it, but believe me - we are taking advice from experts on this," he said.

"This isn't police stonewalling in any way, shape or form; this is police ensuring that the men and women who do go across for recovery, do so in a way that's going to ensure that they are safe."

Police said efforts to launch drones near the volcano on Tuesday night failed due to windy conditions.

The number of those killed by Monday's eruption has risen to six, with a patient at Middlemore Hospital succumbing to their injuries. 

Eight others currently unaccounted for are also presumed dead.

Follow live updates here.