Three Australians Dead, 13 In Hospital And 11 Still Missing After Volcano Eruption
At least three Australians are feared dead and a further 11 are unaccounted for following a horror volcano eruption in New Zealand.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday morning he believed at least three Australians perished in the explosions and that he expected more terrible news to follow.
“We fear of the five deceased persons, that three of those, up to three are Australians, but that is not yet confirmed,” Morrison said during a press conference.
"But I fear there is worse news to come over the course of perhaps today or over the next few days.”
Twenty-four Australians were caught up in the tragedy on Monday and at least 13 of those are receiving treatment across New Zealand.
Morrison also confirmed that New Zealand officials have now moved to a recovery mission.
“There is not considered to be anyone on that island that remains alive,” he said.
New Zealand authorities confirmed early on Tuesday morning that eight people remain on White Island or are unaccounted for. With 11 Australians still missing, and three suspected dead, these remaining eight could also be Australian nationals.
Many Australians are being treated for severe burns and some are fighting for life in hospital, according to the PM. He said Australian consular officials arriving in New Zealand on Tuesday will work to ascertain the details of their injuries.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne also said Australia is bracing for more heartbreaking news out of New Zealand as authorities work to identify those who were touring the Island.
“We do expect the news on that to be very, very sobering in the coming days,” Payne said on Tuesday.
An Australian Federal Police forensic DVI assessment team together with members of the South Wales Police force will travel to New Zealand on Tuesday and work closely with New Zealand officials.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) officials are also working with Royal Caribbean cruises. DFAT is making contact with the families of people who were on the cruise ship or visiting the island during the eruption.
The volcano on White Island in the Bay of Plenty off the coast on New Zealand’s North Island erupted at 2.11 pm local time on Monday. 47 people were on the island visiting the volcano -- which is NZ’s most active.
Many visitors were from the Ovation Of The Seas cruise ship which had sailed from Sydney.
“This is a terrible tragedy, a time of great innocence and joy interrupted by the horror of that eruption,” Morrison said.
Morrison also thanked NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and NZ authorities for the swiftness of their response when dealing with the volcano emergency.
Anyone concerned about loved ones can call DFAT's 24-hour consular emergency number on 1300 555 135 from within Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.
New Zealand police say people from overseas can call +64 9105 105 to submit information regarding friends or family who might have been visiting White Island during the eruption.
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