Search For Remaining Two White Island Victims Suspended
The search for Sydney teenager Winona Langford and New Zealand tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, both believed to have been killed in the White Island eruption, has been suspended just one day before Christmas.
New Zealand Police announced the decision on Tuesday afternoon in a statement from Bay of Plenty District Commander, Superintendent Andy McGregor.
"This decision follows extensive shoreline and substantial aerial searches from east of White Island to north of Cape Runaway," the statement said.
"Sadly no further items of significance have been located."
Last week, NZ Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement, said authorities believe the two bodies were washed out to sea.
"It is very clear that two of the eight bodies we believe that were in or near a stream that runs off the island and into the sea were no longer present on the island," Clement said.
"We needed to go onto the island to confirm that, and we have done that twice."
Police confirmed the body of a man, believed to be Marshall-Inman, was sighted in the water nearby on December 11.
Search teams have walked along the streams on the island that are believed to have carried the bodies out to sea, to determine if it was possible for they were removed by natural causes.
"It is my strong view that, I cannot be absolute positive, that the two bodies who had been in that water course were washed out to sea," Clement said.
The death toll from the eruption stands at 19, including Ms Langford and Mr Marshall-Inman, after the death of a US woman in an Auckland hospital on Sunday.
The family of U.S. couple, Matt and Lauren Urey (Braham), offered their condolences to the families and friends of those who did not survive the eruption.
The newlywed couple were severely injured in the incident.
"We also want to thank the generous, kind, and caring people of New Zealand who have offered to help in every way possible, the Police Department who have dedicated a team of wonderful individuals to help us in whatever way they can, and the American Consulate for their continued support," the Urey and Braham families said in a statement released by NZ Police on Tuesday.
"They are progressing as well as could be hoped for given the severity of their injuries, but they both have a tremendously difficult and long road to recovery ahead of them."