Four Australians confirmed dead after volcano eruption

White Island. Photo: Getty
White Island. Photo: Getty

A FOOTBALL-loving dad and adventurous mother and daughter are among the first Australians identified as victims of the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand.

More Australians are expected to be included in a mounting death toll, with New Zealand police releasing the names of three others who are missing presumed dead.

Two Sydney families are also unaccounted for, while around a dozen Australians are in hospital, some with critical injuries from the toxic ash and volcanic gases following Monday’s eruption.

New Zealand officials have kept the official death toll at six as conditions remained too dangerous for recovery crews to reach the island on Wednesday.

The body of 53-year-old Adelaide man Gavin Dallow, who had been missing since Monday’s eruption, had been found and identified by police, his family said on Wednesday.

They said Mr Dallow’s stepdaughter, 15-year-old Zoe Hosking, was also presumed dead on White Island.

Police Sup Bruce Bird, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and Whakatane mayor Judy Turner. Photo: AAP

His wife, Zoe’s mother Lisa Dallow, 48, remains in hospital in Hamilton with serious burns.

The news of their deaths came after the confirmation Brisbane woman Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, had also perished.

New Zealand police said Victorian Krystal Browitt and Coffs Harbour pair Karla Matthews and Richard Elzer are missing, presumably still on the island along with Zoe.

“We mourn the loss of Gavin and Zoe,” the Dallow family said in a statement.

“Gavin was a wonderful son and brother. We’ll miss him at the cricket and we’ll miss him at the football.

“Our hearts break at the loss of Zoe at such a young age.”

Earlier a Richards family friend said they had lived in hope their loved ones had survived.

“But the hope was snuffed out this morning with the message from the New Zealand police,” John Mickel said.

“The family have asked me to describe Julie and Jess as being outdoor, adventurous people … if there was an adventure that offered itself, then they would go.”

All were on a tour of White Island from the cruise liner Ovation of the Seas which was moored on the North Island, around 50km away.

Fears are also held for the Hollander and Langford families from Sydney.

Martin and Barbara Hollander and their sons Berend and Matthew were on holiday in New Zealand from their northern Sydney home and have not been heard from, although they don’t appear on the police missing list.

The boys’ school, Knox Grammar, said Year 8 student Matthew and Berend, in Year 10, are popular students.

“With a close circle of friends, Matt has been popular amongst his peers. Matthew has always been enthusiastic about life and involved in many school and year group activities,” a Knox statement said.

“Berend’s engaging smile and quirky sense of humour has made him a good mate to his close group of friends and a welcome member to every classroom.”

The Langfords – parents Anthony and Kristine, son Jesse, 19, and daughter Winona, 17, are also unaccounted for.

“This is a time of immense grief and great sorrow for everyone involved,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said RAAF aircraft will transfer up to 10 of the injured patients to Australia by Thursday.