The death toll from Monday’s eruption of New Zealand’s Mount White volcano has risen to eight. It is being reported that six of the dead are Australian and it is expected there are more.
On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrisson officially confirmed one of the fatalities as Australian.
“Sadly, there are 10 further Australians who are missing and presumed deceased,” he added.
ABC News reported that it was able to so far identify the number of Australians as having being killed in the tragedy as six. The two other known fatalities are New Zealanders, according to the ABC.
In a statement released through DFAT, friends of missing Australians Richard Elzer and Karla Mathews (pictured above) acknowledged their deaths, following that of their other friend Jason Griffiths (also pictured) who died in hospital from his injuries.
“We enjoyed the first five days of our trip and have many memories that will stay with us forever,” the group said in the statement.
NZ police hope to be able to return to White Island, also known as Whakaari, on Friday morning to recover the victims’ bodies still there, despite authorities saying there is a 50-60% chance of another eruption in the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, many victims have been flown to Australia for treatment.
“We have already completed five medical evacuations to hospitals in Australia,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“There will be another seven evacuations of Australians back to Australian hospitals over the course of the next 24 hours.”