News World ‘Living a nightmare’: The Australians lost and still missing after White Island tragedy

‘Living a nightmare’: The Australians lost and still missing after White Island tragedy

white island australian toll
Australians lost and missing after the White Island eruption. Photo: The New Daily
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The latest official update indicates 14 Australian citizens and residents are likely to have died in Monday’s volcanic eruption in New Zealand.

That’s half of the 28 citizens and residents caught up in the disaster.

Survivors of the eruption are being treated in hospitals in New Zealand, and in Sydney and Melbourne.

Among them is Craigieburn man Paul Browitt, who arrived at The Alfred in Melbourne on Thursday morning.

A GoFundMe page set up for Mr Browitt and his family has raised more than $35,000 in 24 hours.

The family were on a cruise of a lifetime when their holiday turned into a nightmare. The body of daughter Krystal, who had just celebrated her 21st birthday, was among six recovered from White Island by a high-risk NZ defence force mission on Friday.

Her sister Stephanie is reportedly in a coma in a New Zealand hospital. Mr Browitt’s wife, the sisters’ mother Marie, decided to stay aboard the cruise ship while the trio visited the volcano site.

She is at Stephanie’s bedside.

“This is a nightmare and they’ve been living it,” family friend Steven Galea said.

“She (Marie) is not coping. Who copes with this? No one. You just try to get through it. Four people went on a plane and three came back.

“Questions like, ‘What do you need?’ are met with, ‘I need my family alive’. How do you respond to that?”

He set up the GoFundMe page as it was the only way he thought he could help the family.

“They’re a working-class family. They’re going to need money when they get back. Funerals cost money, flights cost money, I don’t know, life costs money,” Mr Galea said.

“She doesn’t care about any of this right now, her focus is on her family and being with them.”

Another eight victims in NSW hospitals

Eight NSW residents are undergoing surgeries in two Sydney hospitals: Concord Hospital is treating five people, with most in a critical condition, while Royal North Shore Hospital is treating three, two of whom are critical and one of whom is stable.

Dr Peter Haertsch, Head of the Department of Operating Theatres and Plastic Surgery at Concord Hospital said all of the patients received burns injuries on their bodies ranging from seven per cent to 65 per cent, said

The burns were caused by a surge of gases pushed out along the ground at the beginning of the eruption, akin to something seen in the first stages of a nuclear explosion.

“You have patients enveloped by a moving cloud of extremely hot gases and volcanic material,” Dr Haertsch said.

After the victims suffered convection burns from the gases, dust from the eruption settled on their skin resulting in further contact burns. They also inhaled the toxic gases, with their respiratory injuries are expected to become apparent in the coming days.

“It’s business as usual as far as we’re concerned because we are dealing with cutaneous (skin) burns,” he said.

The main priority for doctors now is to remove the burnt, toxic skin from the victims. The patients will begin a months-long recovery process, including skin graft procedures and painful wound dressings.

“It’s a long and demanding business,” Dr Haertsch said.

“There will be a lot of surgical and medical papers written about this.”

The Australian toll: Dead and missing

Eleven Australians are confirmed to have died, or are presumed to have died, in the White Island disaster.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she understood the bodies recovered by NZ defence personnel on Friday are all Australians. The bodies of local tour guides Hayden Inman and Tipene Maangi remain missing, and a dive team will try to locate them on Friday afternoon.

According to a list released by New Zealand police, the Australian bodies belong to Julie and Jessica Richards, Krystal Browitt, Richard Elzer, Karla Matthews, and Zoe Hosking.

They will be sent to Auckland for disaster victim identification.

Some 47 people, including 24 Australian citizens and four permanent residents, were on the island when the volcano erupted on Monday.

* Krystal Browitt, 21
The Melbourne woman’s body was the sixth brought back from the volcanic island in Friday’s high-risk retrieval mission.

white island australian toll
Krystal Browitt’s body was found on White Island on Friday.

Ms Browitt’s father is being treated in Melbourne’s The Alfred hospital for severe burns.

Her sister, Stephanie, is in hospital in New Zealand, with the sisters’ mother, Marie, at her bedside.

* Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20
The Brisbane pair were named by New Zealand police on Wednesday as the first two Australians killed in the disaster.

Their bodies were recovered from White Island on Friday morning.

australians volcano missing
Julie Richards and her daughter Jessica: Their bodies were recovered on Friday.

* Gavin Dallow, 53
Adelaide lawyer Gavin Dallow was confirmed dead on Wednesday.

“We mourn the loss of Gavin and Zoe,” Mr Dallow’s father, Brian, said on Wednesday afternoon.

The Dallow family: Gavin, Lisa and Zoe Hosking. Photo: Supplied

“Gavin was a wonderful son and brother. We’ll miss him at the cricket and we’ll miss him at the football. He was a generous man, always helping his family and his community.

* Zoe Hosking, 15
The body of Zoe, Mr Dallow’s step-daughter, was among the six taken off the island by defence personnel on Friday.

A year 9 student at Adelaide’s St Aloysius College, she had been travelling with Mr Dallow and her mother, Lisa Dallow. Ms Dallow is recovering in hospital.

The bodies of Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer (right) have been recovered.

* Karla Mathews, 32 and Richard Elzer, 32, Jason Griffiths
NZ police say the bodies of Ms Mathews and Mr Elzer were among those recovered on Friday.

The Coffs Harbour couple and their friend were confirmed dead in a joint statement issued by their friends and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Wednesday.

Mr Griffiths died in hospital with burns to 80 per cent of his body.

Berend Hollander (left) and his brother Matthew Hollander are among the dead. Photo: Hollander family

* Berend Hollander, 16, and brother Matthew Hollander, 13 
The brothers have been confirmed dead by their Sydney school, Knox Grammar. Their parents, Martin and Barbara, remain unaccounted for.

“It is with the greatest sadness that I can confirm that Matthew Hollander (Year 8) and Berend (known as ‘Ben’) Hollander (Year 10) have passed away in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the White Island volcano eruption,” the school’s headmaster Scott James wrote to parents.

-with AAP

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