The death toll after New Zealand White Island volcanic eruption has risen to 19, as confirmed by the police on December 23. The National Operations Commander for the eruption which occurred at the tourist destination on December 9, John Tims said that one more person has died last night at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. The death toll also includes two persons who were missing after the incident and bodies remain unrecovered. Out of nearly 47 tourists, mainly Australian, the eruption had killed 13 immediately and more than two dozens were hospitalised.
The latest victim of the eruption is the sixth person to die in hospital in the two weeks after the incident. Even though White Island is famous among tourists, all trips have been suspended by the authorities. Reportedly, the two missing persons might be dead because a land search on December 15 failed to find any sign of the missing pair and a sea search resumed amid speculation that both could be in the water.
New Zealand authorities have also released the names of more victims identified in New Zealand's White Island volcano eruption. On December 15, police named four more victims - 24-year-old from New Zealand Tipene James Te Rangi Ataahua Maangi, 15-year-old Zoe Ella Hosking, 53-year-old Gavin Brian Dallow and 51-year-old Anthony James Langford from Australia. The search for the bodies is continuing, according to a police statement.
The identification process of the victims is being carried out in Auckland by experts, including a pathologist, a forensic dentist, and a fingerprint officer. Earlier on December 14, 21-year-old Australian Krystal Eve Browitt was the first person to be identified by officials. A specialist team recovered six bodies from the volcano, braving hazardous conditions in a risky operation four days after it erupted while 47 people were visiting. It was the first time authorities have been able to return to White Island.
Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said that they understand the frustration of the rescue team as well as the loved ones of the victims who want their bodies to be back. He said there was every chance that both corpses were in the water but the divers were satisfied that the area they searched near the jetty was clear of the bodies. Clement added that the police have not given up hope despite the land and sea searchers have so far been unsuccessful in finding bodies. In a statement, he said that the police would not give up so easily. In the search operation which took place earlier today, eight police search and rescue personnel were deployed for 75 minutes to an area in which at least one of the bodies was believed to be.