The death toll from New Zealand’s White Island volcano eruption has risen to 20, as two people still considered missing were officially confirmed dead.
- 17 Australians have now died as a result of the White Island volcano eruption
- Winona Langford is the latest Australian confirmed dead, after both her parents also died in the tragedy
- Of the survivors, most of them are still being treated in hospitals for severe burns
The two individuals were 40-year-old New Zealand man Hayden Marshall-Inman and 17-year-old Australian Winona Langford.
“The chief coroner has ruled that both Winona and Hayden died on White Island,” John Tims, New Zealand’s deputy police commissioner, said in a statement.
Ms Langford, from Sydney, was travelling with parents Kristine and Anthony Langford, who died in the eruption, and her brother Jesse, who is being treated in hospital.
New Zealand police officially called off the search for the pair just before Christmas 2019, and around that time Mr Marshall-Inman’s brother posted a tribute on social media, remembering him as a “lovely young man”.
From the official tally of 20 deaths, 18 people have died in New Zealand and two in hospitals in Australia. Seventeen of the dead have been confirmed as Australian.
The last man confirmed to have died before Mr Marshall-Inman and Ms Langford was Melbourne man Paul Browitt, who died earlier this month at the Alfred Hospital as a result of the injuries he suffered during the eruption.
Survivors of the disaster, mostly tourists, who were on or near the volcano when it erupted on December 9, are still being treated in hospitals in both countries for severe burns.
Of those 11 Australian citizens and permanent residents are being treated at specialist burns units in Melbourne and Sydney after being transferred in December.
Earlier in January, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she could not go into the details of any other patients, but their treatment would continue for many months to come.
“We’ve been working very closely with New Zealand, the New South Wales Health Department, the Victorian Health Department — doing an extraordinary job for those who are in hospitals here,” Ms Payne said at the time.
“This is a response from both of our countries to what was a horrific event, and we wish everyone our very, very best.”
Official inquiries into the eruption and New Zealand’s response will take up to a year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.