Search for missing Whakaari / White Island eruption victims suspended

3:05 pm on 24 December 2019

The search for the two missing victims of the Whakaari / White Island eruption has been suspended.

Whakaari White Island eruption as seen from tourist boat

The Whakaari / White Island eruption as seen from a tourist boat. Photo: Supplied / Lillani Hopkins

Bay of Plenty District Commander, Superintendent Andy McGregor, said the decision followed extensive shoreline and aerial searches fromeast of White Island to north of Cape Runaway.

"Sadly no further items of significance have been located. The families of the two missing people have been informed of this decision. Police remain ready to respond if new information comes to light."

He said they planned to continue searching if any new information came to light.

"If we have a look now we're sort of day 15, so at this stage - you know, from what we've seen - we've decided to suspend the search.

"If we get any new information we'll be out there again.

The two people who are still officially listed as missing are 40-year-old tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman and 17-year-old Australian tourist Winona Langford. Police said they presumed their bodies had been washed out to sea.

Hayden Marshall-Inman and Winona Langford.

Hayden Marshall-Inman and Winona Langford. Photo: Supplied

Yesterday, police said another victim of the eruption had died in Middlemore Hospital on Sunday evening.

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The death of that person brings the official number of deceased following the eruption on 9 December to 17 - not counting the two missing victims - and 16 of whom died in New Zealand and one in Australia.

Chief medical officer at Counties Manukau DHB Dr Peter Watson told Checkpoint the patient was a foreign national.

There are still considerable pressures on New Zealand's burns units and hospitals, with 14 patients in centres across New Zealand.

Dr Watson said yesterday it was still very hard for patients, their families and staff two weeks on from the deadly eruption.

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