New Zealand volcano eruption: Search called off for missing pair

Those still missing, presumed dead, are Winona Langford, a 17-year-old Australian tourist, and Hayden Marshall-Inman, a 40-year-old New Zealand tour guide. Their bodies are thought to have been swept into the ocean around the uninhabited volcanic island, Whakaari, or White Island. There were 47 people visiting the tourist destination when the volcano erupted on December 9, killing 13 people initially and leaving more than two dozen others hospitalised with severe burns.

The death toll rose to 19 over the weekend, including two people who have not been found.

The Langford family were all passengers on the Ovation of the Seas.

Ms Langford’s parents, Anthony and Kristine, were killed in the eruption, but her brother, Jesse, survived.

Bay of Plenty District Commander, Superintendent Andy McGregor said the search had been “suspended”.

He added: “This decision follows extensive shoreline and substantial aerial searches from east of White Island to north of Cape Runaway.

“Sadly no further items of significance have been located.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters he had not been updated on the situation due to being focussed on severe bushfires at home, but said the New Zealand government had done all it could to recover the bodies.

He said: “I have no doubt that they are exhausting every, every channel available to them to recover those remains.

“I can only say thank you, kia ora to New Zealand, and for everything that they’ve done to assist the Australians and Australian families.”

Police said on Monday one of those injured during the eruption had died in an Auckland hospital on the weekend, bringing the official death toll to 17 prior to today’s announcement.

There has been criticism that tourists were allowed on the 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 thrillseeker tourism industry.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said official inquiries by coroners and work safety regulators into the eruption could take up to a year, and will carry potential criminal penalties of up to five years in jail.

Whakaari is an active stratovolcano located 30 miles north-east of New Zealand’s North Island.

It erupted continually from 1975 until September 2000 in what was the world’s longest historic eruption, as fellas in 2012 and 2016.