The death toll for this month’s volcanic eruption in New Zealand rose to 19 over the weekend, while crews unsuccessfully searched for the bodies of the two victims who have yet to be recovered.
Police on Monday plan to review the search area, New Zealand Police Superintendent Andy McGregor said, and determine how to proceed two weeks after the eruption spewed ash and steam on White Island, a popular tourist destination. The missing, identified as tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian tourist Winona Langford, 17, are presumed dead in addition to other 17 fatalities.
The latest person to die from injuries related to the eruption has not been identified. The victim died in New Zealand’s Middlemore Hospital on Sunday night, Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said in a statement.
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While officials didn’t share additional information, a Georgia television station reported that a local woman had died Sunday from complications in treatment related to the eruption. Metro Atlanta resident Mayuri “Mary” Singh had burns on 70% of her body, a friend told WXIA-TV, and passed away in a New Zealand hospital.
Two dozen Australians, nine Americans, five New Zealanders, four Germans, two Britons, two Chinese and a Malaysian were visiting the volcano when it erupted. Many were from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that had left Sydney two days earlier.
Thirteen of them died instantly, if the missing are included, while another six have died from severe burns in the past two weeks.
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Whether tourists should have been allowed on the island is under investigation. Both WorkSafe, New Zealand’s workplace safety agency, and a coroner have opened inquires, said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Three weeks earlier, the alert level was raised for a potential eruption. GeoNet, the agency monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in New Zealand, had noted an increase in sulfur dioxide gas, which originates from magma deep in the volcano. It also said that volcanic tremors had increased from weak to moderate strength.
Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.