Death toll from New Zealand volcanic eruption rises to 21

Some 47 people were on White Island when volcano erupted on December 9th

Plumes of steam rise above White Island off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand. File Photograph: Mark Baker/AP Photo

Plumes of steam rise above White Island off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand. File Photograph: Mark Baker/AP Photo

 

Another person who suffered critical injuries from an eruption of a New Zealand volcano last month has died, taking the death toll to 21, police said.

Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the person died on Tuesday night at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.

Officers have not yet identified the victim. Mr Tims said they would do so after the wider family had been informed.

There were 47 people visiting the tourist destination of White Island when the volcano erupted on December 9th, killing 13 people initially and leaving more than two dozen in hospital with severe burns.

Eight people have died in hospital in New Zealand and Australia in the weeks since the eruption.

Experts say super-heated water that burst from beneath the crater’s surface caused the burns, which in some cases covered large portions of the victims’ bodies or damaged their lungs.

Many of those killed and injured were Australian tourists travelling aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.

New Zealand authorities are investigating the circumstances around the disaster. Many have questioned why tourists were allowed on the island after its alert level was raised by authorities three weeks before the eruption. – AP