A close family friend of two people caught in Monday’s White Island disaster has opened up about the long road to recovery as the pair fight for their lives after being evacuated back to Australia.
Sydney couple Nick and Marion London are both in a critical condition after suffering burns to more than 50 per cent of their bodies, as well as internal chemical burns from breathing in toxic gas.
They could spend months in hospital recovering, according to close family friend Tom Nieuwland, who has set up a GoFundMe campaign to aid the pair’s recovery.
“Nick and Marion have an incredibly long and difficult road ahead with the first of many extensive surgeries happening to remove the damaged skin and graft some areas,” Mr Nieuwland said.
“With the unclear and long road ahead and the medical and recovery costs only just starting for the family, we would like to start this page to support Nick and Marion’s recovery and support their two children Matt and Louise.”
It comes as New Zealand police formally identified the first volcano victim as Australian woman Krystal Eve Browitt, 21, while another died in hospital, bringing the toll to 15.
Ms Browitt, from Melbourne, was on the island with her father Paul and sister Stephanie, according to a GoFundMe page for the family.
“Whilst the mother Marie stayed behind on board the ship, her husband Paul and two daughters Stephanie and Krystal were on the island when the volcano erupted,” said friend Stephen Galea.
“Paul is in Auckland in a coma in the burn’s unit, Stephanie is in Christchurch in the burns unit in a coma.”
Meanwhile two recovery teams will return to the volcano by helicopter on Sunday in a bid to locate and retrieve two remaining victims.
“These police staff will be deployed to an area of the island where our best information suggests a body might be,” Deputy Commissioner John Tims said in a statement.
However differences in their breathing apparatus mean they will only be able to stay on the island for up to 75 minutes.
“We remain committed to finishing the task at hand and returning the two remaining bodies to their loved ones,” Deputy Commissioner Tims said.
Nick and Marion’s son Matt told the Sydney Morning Herald his father was a gentle giant” and his mother the “very definition of kindness and care.”
Matt told the publication his sister was able to get in contact with their father days after the eruption when a nurse answered his phone. She said he seems to be in good spirits.
At least 10 Australians remain in critical condition in local hospitals five days after the deadly White Island volcano eruption in New Zealand.
Mr and Mrs London are among seven across Sydney hospitals listed in a critical condition.
Two other New South Wales residents are stable while three patients evacuated from New Zealand to The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne are also critically ill.
Some 47 people, including 24 Australian citizens and four permanent residents, were on the island when the volcano erupted on Monday.
Eight Australians are confirmed dead, two are presumed to have died and 13 are in hospital with severe burns.
The official toll given by New Zealand authorities stands at eight, with a presumptive toll of 16.
Brisbane woman Julie Richards and her university student daughter Jessica; Coffs Harbour couple Richard Elzer and Karla Matthews; Melbourne woman Krystal Browitt and Adelaide schoolgirl Zoe Hosking, 15, are all believed to have perished when heat, ash and superheated toxic gases enveloped the island following the eruption.
Sydney’s Hollander brothers Berend, 16, and Matthew, 13, and Coffs Harbour man Jason Griffiths died in hospital from their burns, while Adelaide man Gavin Dallow, 53, was declared dead on Wednesday.
Fears are held for Berend and Matthew’s parents Martin and Barbara Hollander, while Sydney couple Anthony and Kristine Langford and their daughter Winona, 17, are missing.
Extended family have indicated the Langfords’ son Jesse, 19, survived. He’s likely among those being treated in Sydney.