The official death toll from the volcanic eruption in New Zealand has risen to 17, after another victim died in hospital over the weekend.
“Police can confirm a further person has died in Middlemore Hospital last night … police were advised of the death shortly before 11pm (local time),” New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said on Monday.
No other details on the identity or nationality of the person have been provided by police.
The majority of the previously named victims after the powerful eruption of White Island on December 9, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, were Australian citizens or permanent residents.
Those still missing, presumed dead, are Winona Langford, a 17-year-old Australian from Sydney, whose parents also died in the tragedy, and Hayden Marshall-Inman, a 40-year-old New Zealand tour guide. Their bodies are believed to have been washed out to sea.
Mr Marshall-Inman was farewelled in a memorial in Whakatane on Friday, where he was remembered as a hero and, now, a guardian of the volcanic island.
Police have scaled back a search for the bodies of Ms Langford and Mr Marshall-Inman but have said they have not given up hope of finding them.
Last week, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement spoke of the disappointment of rescuers that they had not been able to find the final two bodies.
“It hurts us and it hurts our people,” he said, according to New Zealand website Stuff.
He also saidpolice divers had been “within metres” of recovering Mr Marshall-Inman’s body in the water near Whakaari’s jetty on December 11.
“The reality was the conditions of the ocean meant they could not get close,” Mr Clement said.
There has been criticism that people were allowed on the White Island, a popular destination for day-trippers, given the risks of an active volcano. That has led to speculation the tragedy could lead to major changes for New Zealand’s thrill-seeker tourism industry.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said official inquiries into the eruption by coroners and work safety regulators could take up to a year. They will also carry potential criminal penalties of up to five years in jail.
White Island tragedy: Confirmed dead
- Krystal Eve Browitt, 21, Melbourne
- Tīpene James Te Rangi Ataahua Maangi, 24, New Zealander
- Zoe Ella Hosking, 15, Adelaide
- Gavin Brian Dallow, 53, Adelaide
- Anthony James Langford, 51, Sydney
- Kristine Elizabeth Langford, 45, Sydney.
- Matthew Robert Hollander, 13, US citizen, Australian permanent resident, Sydney
- Berend “Ben” Lawrence Hollander, 16, US citizen, Australian permanent resident, Sydney
- Martin Berend Hollander, 48, Sydney
- Barbara Jean Hollander, 49, US citizen, Australian permanent resident, Sydney
- Karla Michelle Mathews, 32, Coffs Harbour
- Jason David Griffiths, 33, Coffs Harbour
- 13. Richard “Rick” Aaron Elzer, 32, Coffs Harbour
- Jessica Richards, 20, Brisbane
- Julie Richards, 47, Brisbane
- Australian man who died in a Sydney hospital on December 14. Family has requested his details not be released
- Unnamed person confirmed to have died in hospital in New Zealand on December 22.
Missing, presumed dead:
- Winona Jane Langford, 17, Sydney
- Hayden Bryan Marshall-Inman, 40, Whakatane