Sixteenth eruption victim dies in Australia

Police search teams were sent to White Island on Sunday morning to investigate an area of interest, but did not find any victims. Photo: NZ Police

3.45pm Update: Police can confirm a further person injured in the Whakaari / White Island eruption, and later repatriated to Australia, sadly died yesterday.

“This person will come under Australia’s coronial jurisdiction,” says National Operations Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims.

“As a result, New Zealand authorities will not be responsible for releasing this person’s name.

“Australian Federal Police has worked closely with our Police over the last week.

“Our relationship has proved invaluable as we continue to support those Australians and their families impacted by this tragic event.”

The official number of deceased is now 16 – this includes 15 people who died in New Zealand and one person in Australia.

National Police Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims. Photo Ross Giblin

1.15pm Update:

Following a search by the recovery team at Whakaari/White Island this morning, no bodies were located, and the team returned to the mainland.

"This morning at 8am, three helicopters- two commercial helicopters and the Police Eagle helicopter – left for Whakaari / White Island with eight Police staff on board," says National Operations Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims.

"Those staff covered a search area where our best information suggested a body could still remain.

"Unfortunately, we did not locate a body this morning.

"We have always anticipated recovering all bodies from the island, and we remain deeply committed to that goal, to allow families some closure.

"We are now debriefing, reassessing and coming up with a new plan going forward."

The recovery team goes through a decontamination process. Photo: Dominico Zapata/Stuff

NZDF resources and personnel, Navy divers and the Police National Dive Squad remain in Whakatane to assist however they are required.

"Navy and Police divers are working together and have recommenced searching in the area this afternoon," says John.

The Police boat heads out from Whakatane to Whakaari/White Island to continue searching on Saturday. Video: Jennie Parkin

Meanwhile, the process of identifying victims and releasing bodies to their loved ones is ongoing in Auckland.

"We will continue to release the names of those who have died as soon as we are able to.

"Our staff and partner agencies continue to work tirelessly as we approach one week since this tragic event and I wish to thank them for their dedication."

Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement. Photo: Dominico Zapata/Stuff

12.02pm Update:

Police have formally released further names of victims identified following the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island on Monday December 9.

One New Zealander and three Australians have had their names released.

They are Tipene James Te Rangi Ataahua Maangi, age 24, from New Zealand; Zoe Ella Hosking, 15, Australia; Gavin Brian Dallow, 53, Australia; and Anthony James Langford, 51, Australia.

The first victim’s name released earlier was Krystal Eve Browitt, age 21, from Australia.

10.25am Update:

The recovery team has landed safely back on the mainland.

The recovery team departed Whakaari/White Island about 9.50am.

Earlier: 8am
Police can confirm a further person has died following the eruption on Whakaari / White Island, bringing the official toll to 15.

The person was earlier being treated at Waikato Hospital.


“Police remain focused on supporting families at this terrible time,” says National Operations Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims.


Police are now in the position to formally release the names of victims identified following the volcanic eruption on Whakaari / White Island on Monday December 9 2019. The first victim’s name to be released is Krystal Eve Browitt, age 21, from Australia.

A recovery team is this morning returning to Whakaari / White Island, with boots on the ground and resource in the air.

“As with the first recovery operation, the plan is contingent on a range of risk factors which have been, and will continually be, assessed,” says John.

“Two teams of four Search and Rescue and Disaster Victim Identification staff are being taken to the island by helicopter."

Police Eagle helicopter landing at Whakatane

“These Police staff will be deployed to an area of the island where our best information suggests a body might be.

“They will be wearing the same protective clothing as the eight New Zealand Defence Force personnel who were on the island on Friday, however their breathing apparatus will be different, meaning they will only be able to stay on the island for up to 75 minutes.”

The Police Eagle Helicopter will be above the island in an operational support capacity, as will the helicopters that dropped off the ground teams.

A GNS scientist will remain on board Eagle to monitor the environment in real-time.

“We remain committed to finishing the task at hand and returning the two remaining bodies to their loved ones,” says John.

Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group is continuing to lead and co-ordinate the event response to Monday’s eruption on Whakaari/White Island.

“We are supporting the NZ Police recovery operation and coordinating the welfare services to assist and support affected family and whanau,” says a BOP CDEM spokesperson. “Navy divers today [Saturday] joined Police divers as they continued to search for the two people who remain unaccounted for.”

Meanwhile, Coronial Services in Auckland continues to work through the robust process to formally identify tupapaku (the deceased) which allows them to be reunited with their loved ones. At 5pm yesterday, NZ Police released the name of the first formally identified victim of the event.

Meanwhile, inter-agency welfare teams are supporting 15 patients and their families at Christchurch, Hutt Valley, Waikato and Middlemore Hospitals as well as from Whakatane. In recent days, 13 patients have been transferred to hospitals in Australia and earlier in the week, three people were discharged from hospital.

Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has been activated to assist Bay of Plenty Group in providing a seamless continuity of care for the families as they transfer to Auckland to be close-by their loved ones.

In addition to the hospital-based welfare support teams, the Civil Defence Groups have yesterday opened up two family centres in Auckland, to provide a private respite space and access to assistance with transport and other logistics, for as long as required.

The Whakatane Civil Defence Welfare and Support Centre hub for affected families will be closed on Sunday, reopening Monday. This hub provides access services or assistance from Ministry of Social Development, ACC, Red Cross, Ngati Awa Social and Health Services, Pou Whakaari, Salvation Army and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The National Emergency Management Agency has developed an all-of-Government factsheet on support and information available to people affected by the emergency.

Download the Factsheet (updated 13 December 2019) (505kb)


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