Two teenage brothers originally from Chicago have been identified as among those killed in Monday’s volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand, as the official death toll from the natural disaster was raised from six to eight.
Matthew Hollander, 13, and Berend Hollander, 16, who had moved from the U.S. to Sydney with their parents, died after being hospitalized for injuries sustained while touring White Island, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing an announcement from their school.
Their mother, Barbara Hollander, 50, who was born in Chicago, and their father, Martin Hollander, 48, who was born in Australia, remained missing as of Thursday morning, local time.
The volcano erupted just after 2 p.m. Monday, covering the area with ash and steam as several tourist groups were visiting. Authorities said there were at least 47 people on the island when the blast occurred.
Police announced two additional deaths on Thursday morning, local time, but without identifying them by name. Both of the victims had been treated at a hospital, police said. It’s not clear whether these two deaths were in the Hollander family.
This news came hours after police released a partial list of those confirmed as missing. This list of nine people, all from Australia and New Zealand, is said to be incomplete as authorities have been unable to speak with all of the potential victims’ families.
Those missing are identified as:
Gavin Dallow (Australia)
Jessica Richards (Australia)
Krystal Browitt (Australia)
Richard Elzer (Australia)
Zoe Hosking (Australia)
Karla Mathews (Australia)
Julie Richards (Australia)
Tipene Maangi (New Zealand)
Hayden Inman (New Zealand)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk personally confirmed the deaths of Julie and Jessica Richards on Twitter, however, stating that she knows members of their family.
“I know how much Julie and Jessica are loved and how terribly devastating their loss is,” she said. “I offer my profound condolences to everyone going through what this family is going through. I also offer my admiration to rescuers and the Brisbane medical teams comforting the injured.”
The mother and daughter from Brisbane were reportedly visiting the island as part of a cruise with the liner Ovation of the Seas at the time of the eruption, Perth Now reported.
A similar, informal list released by the Red Cross includes several dozen names, most of which are identified as Australian born. There are at least nine people identified as born in the U.S., five born in New Zealand, and others from Germany, Britain, China and Malaysia. The youngest on the list is age 5 and the oldest age 74.
Virginia newlyweds Matthew and Lauren Urey have also been reported as among those injured, with Matthew suffering burns over 80 percent of his body and Lauren having burns over 20 percent of hers. Both were last listed as hospitalized, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Much to the dismay of the victims’ families, rescue crews have been unable to return to the island to recover bodies due to the extreme conditions.
“Since Monday we have been working tirelessly with our partners at Defence and Fire and Emergency New Zealand to establish a plan for the recovery of the bodies still on the island,” Deputy Commissioner John Tims of New Zealand’s national police said in a statement Wednesday. “We are confident in our ability to deliver the rescue operation once we can be sure we can manage the very real dangers that anyone going onto the island would face.”
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