Australia

Three more Australians confirmed dead in Whakaari volcanic eruption

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The number of Australians dead or presumed dead following the Whakaari volcano eruption has risen to seven.

A trio of friends, a football-loving dad and an adventurous mother and daughter are among the Australians identified as victims of the Whakaari volcanic eruption in New Zealand.

The deaths of Coffs Harbour friends Jason Griffiths, Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer were confirmed on Wednesday night by their six travelling companions.

That brought the number of Australians dead or presumed dead in the disaster to seven.

A supplied image obtained on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, shows victims of the Whakaari volcano eruption (L-R) Jason Griffiths, Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer
A supplied image obtained on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, shows victims of the Whakaari volcano eruption (L-R) Jason Griffiths, Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer
DFAT

Adelaide man Gavin Dallow, his 15-year-old stepdaughter Zoe Hosking and Brisbane mother and daughter Julie and Jessica Richards have also been named as dead or presumed dead.

Mr Griffiths died in hospital after suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body in Monday's eruption while Ms Mathews and her partner Mr Elzer are among eight bodies believed to be still on the island where authorities say there is no sign of life.

The nine friends were holidaying together on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship when Mr Griffiths, Ms Mathews and Mr Elzer joined a tour on Monday of Whakaari, New Zealand's most active volcano.

"Some time later, we discovered that two of our friends, Richard Elzer and Karla Mathews, were still on the island," their friends Alex, Daniel, Ellie, Leanne, Paul and Samantha said in a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"We have been advised that there are no signs of life on the island.

"We then located our third friend, Jason Griffiths, in a hospital in the early hours of the next morning. From that moment until the moment of his passing, Jason was surrounded by friends and family members.

"We are incredibly saddened to have lost three of our closest friends."

Gavin and Lisa Dallow. Ms Dallow remains in hospital with serious burns.
Gavin and Lisa Dallow. Ms Dallow remains in hospital with serious burns.
Facebook

Mr Dallow's 48-year-old wife and Zoe's mother, Lisa Dallow, remains in hospital in Hamilton in a critical condition with serious burns.

"We mourn the loss of Gavin and Zoe," the family said.

"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.

"Our hearts break at the loss of Zoe at such a young age. We know her loss will also devastate her school community and the local Girl Guides, of which she was an active member."

The White Island volcano erupts.
The White Island volcano erupts.
EPA

St Aloysius College, where Zoe was in year 9, said the school community shared the family's deep grief.

"The whole staff, long with many students and their families, have gathered in the chapel to pray for Zoe and her family and to console one another," Principal Paddy McEvoy said.

"The family's pain and that of their friends and the school community are beyond words, yet we cherish all that we have shared with Zoe and her family over 10 years."

Earlier, hopes that a Queensland mother and daughter may have miraculously survived the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand were "snuffed out", when it emerged the pair were also among the dead.

Julie Richards and her daughter Jessica were the first Australians to be identified as victims of Monday's eruption, with another eight people presumed dead after they were unable to escape White Island.

"You obviously live in hope that's it not going to be your loved one's name that comes up, but the hope was snuffed out this morning with the message from the New Zealand police," John Mickel said on Wednesday.

"Now we have the festive season, which will be celebrated by so many Queenslanders, but for this family, it will be one of deep poignancy."

He said their family was "united in grief".

Brisbane mother Julie Richards, 47, and her 20-year-old daughter Jessica.
Brisbane mother Julie Richards, 47, and her 20-year-old daughter Jessica.
Twitter

He said Ms Richards, 47, and Jessica, 20, had been extremely excited about their cruise holiday.

Their family frantically called hospitals and authorities following the eruption after receiving no contact from them.

The call they were dreading came through from authorities at about 10.30am on Wednesday.

The active Whakaari volcano exploded on Monday, while 47 people were on the island.

Julie Richards and her daughter Jessica Richards.
Julie Richards and her daughter Jessica Richards.
Supplied

New Zealand authorities are trying to work out if they can get crews to the island off the east coast of the North Island to recover more bodies.

But the prospects aren't good after GeoNet, the local agency that gathers volcano data, noted increased activity since 4am local time. 

"This morning volcanic tremor has significantly increased at Whakaari/White Island indicating that volcanic gas pressures remain high," a statement read.

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