Published: Thu, December 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Death toll rises to six, with eight more feared dead

Death toll rises to six, with eight more feared dead

Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims earlier said thirteen people are believed killed and others are fighting for their lives with serious burns after the devastating White Island eruption - and experts are warning of more volcanic activity.

There were 47 people on White Island when the offshore volcano erupted on Monday afternoon in a forceful explosion of scorching steam and ash. "We know where they are", he said, referring to the bodies.

The Brisbane mother and daughter failed to return to the cruise ship after the tragedy, leading family members to fear the worst.

White Island Flights operations manager George Walker said: "It's right at the end by the rocks, and I used to say to people on the flight I wonder about the logic of putting it there".

"Our hearts break at the loss of Zoe at such a young age", the Dallow family said in an emailed statement.

Police said on Wednesday that nine people are officially listed as missing, seven of them Australians and two New Zealanders.

Seismologists have predicted there is a 40-60 percent chance of another eruption on the island, which sits semi-submerged 50 kilometres (30 miles) out to sea.

As well as the injured, six people have been confirmed dead after the eruption, while eight remain missing and are presumed to be dead as well.

All were on a tour of White Island from the cruise liner Ovation of the Seas which was moored on the North Island, around 50km away.

In the town touted as the gateway to White Island, the volcano has an nearly mystical significance, its regular puffing a feature of the landscape.

"There are a number of people in hospital who can not communicate, they have significant burns not only to skin but internal organs", he told Radio New Zealand.

An update from the New Zealand police posted on their official Facebook today stated that there are now 30 patients in six hospitals around New Zealand - Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Auckland City, Tauranga, Waikato and Christchurch.

Six deaths were confirmed after Monday's eruption.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Zoe and her family", the school says.

Brian said the family are also devastated by the death of Zoe, Gavin's step-daughter.

The eruption, he said, was a reminder of the power of nature and humans' connection with it.

The first victim to be identified was tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, a local of nearby town Whakatane, who has been named by his brother on Facebook.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 11 Australians are unaccounted for and 13 were hospitalized.

New Zealand's GeoNet seismic monitoring agency had raised the volcano's alert level on November 18 from 1 to 2 on a scale where 5 represents a major eruption, noting an increase in sulfur dioxide gas, which originates from magma. It raised the alert level to 4 for a time after Monday's eruption but lowered it to 3 as the activity subsided.

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